Called to be Witnesses

August 14, 2017
Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
The Gospel Today
Matthew 17:22-27

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

REFLECTION (Sem. Mark Ian V. Abu)

It is a part of Jewish tradition that a male Jew who reach a certain age have to pay the temple tax for the upkeep of the Temple of Jerusalem. This tax is an additional burden, aside from the regular taxation that Jews have to pay their Roman lords. In the Gospel for today, Jesus argued that He was exempt from this temple tax because the temple belongs to His father and therefore owned by Him as well. However, he later asked Peter to pay the dues so that he might not create commotion from the crowd.

Jesus suggested a taxation that gives priority to sons and daughters of a certain nation over the foreigners. Seemingly this is not true to our present situation in the country. Our government gives more tax incentives and exemptions to foreigners and aliens than to the natives of our own land. Outsiders are treated with utmost welcome while our own people are simply and easily laid aside. Yet, the move of Jesus to pay tax even He is a legitimate owner of the temple is a lesson of total respect to authority. And so with us, we should do things not only because we ought to do them out of duty but to give example and motivation for others to do the same.

It is the same when it comes to prayer and obligation to faith and with God. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Growth in one’s spirituality consists of not simply prayer and other exercises but attitudes of daily life. It includes the way we run our marriage, our family, our business, our friendships, our studies, our money matters and many more.

Jesus gives us the responsibility to continue the mission He started in our life. There is so much still to be done, both in defending and living the truth about our faith and nationality and in living out the implications of the good news of God’s love and justice. As His disciples – in our families, workplaces, schools, parish or circle of friends – we are called to be His living witnesses.

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