Thursday 3 July 2014

Monday of Week 19 Year 2

Are we willing to set aside certain rights and privileges, even though we may be entitled to them? Some of us seem to think that we have a right to something or we are entitled to certain privileges. When we have this sort of mentality, we may become more and more possessive of what is ours and what we ought to receive. But there are times where we could set aside certain rights as a form of showing good example or witnessing to others.

In today's Gospel, we see the collectors of the half-shekel questioning Peter on whether Jesus pays the half-shekel. This half-shekel is a temple tax which is meant for the upkeep of the temple (after all, even in those days, nothing comes free and persons and buildings still need to be maintained at cost). Jesus is actually exempted as the temple is the house of God and he is the Son of God. However, Jesus chose to forgo his right to be exempted and had the tax paid so that his exercising his right would not be a stumbling block to the temple collectors and others. He sent Peter fishing to demonstrate that he was in fact Lord over all creation, having the power to know which fish had a shekel in its mouth, just enough to pay the tax for the two of them. Moreover, Jesus' willingness to pay the tax shows his submission to the law of God. He told Peter to take the shekel and “give it to them for me and for you.” Here, we see that Jesus made a distinction between himself as the exempted son and Peter as the non-exempted subject, and yet still followed the law of God as an example to others.

What about us? Are we still demanding our rights? If Jesus, son of God, is willing to forgo His rights and pay the temple tax, would we be willing to do the same? Jesus, as son of God, could have easily exercised His rights, but as St. Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:6-8: "Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross." We call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, but are we humble and willing to follow Jesus' example?

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