So many people spend their lives seeking significance and freedom on manmade dead-end passes. Yet, here’s the amazing truth: “We can never redeem ourselves; we cannot pay God the price for our lives, because the payment for a human life is too great” (Psalm 49:7-8a).
Gospel Text: (MT 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.”
Where is the Good News in this peculiar story? Just this: God treated Peter, this sinner, as his son and paid his tax. Likewise, your taxes and mine have been paid for. Jesus didn’t have to, but he paid the “tax” anyway – and in the most extravagant way, with his life. He redeemed us at the cross. And at our baptism, we became sons and daughters of the king. We became heirs to the kingdom. Sinners we may be, but strangers we are not. We are part of God’s royal family.