Gospel according to 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.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, You never fail to provide for me when I am in need. Help me to turn to You whenever I struggle so as to be filled with new hope in You.
Encountering Christ: We come from a society that questions all the answers and sometimes have more doubt than belief. We are not sure if what we are told by the folks that run our country, state and/or city is completely true. So, we are forced to have this “doubt”. Well, if you can imagine, the apostles had that same doubt, even though they witnessed the miracles of Jesus. Maybe we need to BELIEVE in the “Miracles of Hope”
In this Gospel, Jesus had just told His disciples for the second time about His coming passion. Again, this was difficult for them to hear or even to understand. Recall that after the first prediction of Jesus’ coming passion and death, Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain and was Transfigured before them. The Transfiguration was meant, in part, to dispel the fear of the disciples and to give them hope for that which was to come. And now, after Jesus’ second prediction of His passion, another miracle was performed for Peter, personally, to help encourage him and give him hope.
Now I have been a fisherman for 50 plus years and I had never found a coin in the mouth of a fish. I Imagine if I were Peter following through with Jesus’ instructions by going to the sea, dropping in a hook, pulling out a fish and then opening its mouth. Peter must have been filled with hope and excitement as he pulled this fish in, wondering if Jesus’ words would come true. And as soon as Peter saw the coin, just as Jesus said, he must have been in awe. Slowly, the fear and anxiety he was experiencing at this second prediction of Jesus’ passion and death would have begun to subside as Peter witnessed yet another incredible sign from his Lord.
God performs miracles in our lives every day. The problem is that we often fail to discern or look for them. Any time His glorious power works within us to strengthen us or fills us with courage, hope, charity, and every other virtue, this is a miracle of transforming grace. God always knows what we need in life. He knows our struggles and doubts. At times, He is silent to draw us deeper through intentional prayer and acts of faith. And at times, we suddenly find that we receive a new clarity in life that is the result of His grace at work.
God has assured us of His divine presence and action in our life. Though the assuring miracles God has performed in our life may not be physical in their manifestation, God’s workings can be just as convincing if we clearly perceive them. Jesus is trustworthy. This is the conclusion Peter would have arrived at. He was trustworthy. Therefore, everything He said should be believed. What a wonderful conclusion for us all to arrive at.
Closing Prayer: My miraculous Lord, Your action in my life is truly glorious and amazing. You are always faithful, dear Lord. I do place all my hope in You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Action of the Day: What does God want to assure you of in your life? Ponder His intervention and the ways He has cared for you and led you. Be grateful and allow the memory of what God has done to be your strength today and the source of hope when you need it the most.