The 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.”
Reflection: “The Ol’ Fish Tale” is the fisherman’s way of telling little white lies and sometimes big lies about their catch. Now I have had my fair share of hearing these tales, but I have never heard about a coin in a fish’s mouth. If it isn’t enough to hear about this coin but it’s also a very valuable coin. I recall as a younger fisherman telling a few tales myself such as how many fish I caught or adding a couple of more inches to the size of the fish. It wasn’t until later when I realized that telling these lies really doesn’t matter to anyone and that it only mattered to me. I realized that it wasn’t about how many fish I caught or how big, but it was that I was somewhere within the beauty and majesty of God’s creation or it was about sharing this experience with my father, my son and friends. That’s what really mattered. So, I humbled myself and now I don’t mind telling the truth such as catching just a couple of fish all day or even catching none. This story is about humbling ourselves and about letting go of all the concerns that we have living in the city such as taxes, gas prices, political concerns, violence … you get the point.
One thing this story reveals is that, at times, the foolish and unimportant concerns of others are not worth fighting about. It’s easy to allow unimportant issues to get in the way of our service of God therefore, service to fellow sisters and brothers. It’s not an uncommon experience for people to turn trivial concerns into major issues. We, as Christians, need to keep our eyes on what is important in life and not allow ourselves to be drawn into these foolish battles.
Humility, when fully embraced, will help us to avoid “offending” people even if we are in the right. Humility, as seen in this situation with Jesus, enables us to see that this or that battle is not worth fighting. Certainly we cannot tell a “Fish Tale” about the truth, but we can and ought to compromise on more trivial and unimportant demands of others rather than allowing conflicts to rise for foolish reasons.
This Gospel is asking us to be fishermen and catch only the fish we need to feed ourselves. It asking us to be “Fishers of Men” and CATCH the beautiful things that God puts right into our hands. Maybe we could react upon those “issues” in life that seem to get more attention than they are worth and throw them back into the sea.
Action of the Day: Think about the little and big issues in your life that you have no control of and pray to God that it is His “will be done”. Then think of all the beautiful things, small and large, that you have been Blessed with. Reflect upon how you can diffuse these situations by humbling yourself before others.