But that we may not offend them . . .
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Optional Memorial)
Peter is in a tight spot. Even as he answered yes to Jesus’ question about paying the Temple tax, he must have wondered what Jesus might end up doing. Would he really pay it?
Though paying the tax is a good thing, Jesus puts it in a new light. As children of the Father whose Temple it is, both Peter and Jesus are free from he tax. Yet Jesus pays it anyway! He doesn’t want to present an unnecessary obstacle to his fellow Jews.
Jesus has not changed one bit since then. He is still patiently trying to win us over. He doesn’t expect us to get everything right, just as he didn’t expect the Jews to understand their relationship to the Temple. He knows that understanding often follows trust, so he needed to first win their trust before he could address this issue.
We are all like Peter and the other Jews of Jesus’ time. Perhaps there are some aspects of Jesus’ message that you still don’t understand or agree with. Jesus doesn’t hold that against you. He accepts you where you are and wants to help you take the next step in faith.
For instance, you may wonder about how Jesus could be present in the bread and wine at Mass or how Mary could have been assumed into heaven. It’s okay to ask questions as long as you’re staying open and trying to learn. Just don’t let your questions keep you from following Jesus. Trust that he will continue to open your mind and your heart. He is patient. He will help you to understand—and maybe in ways you don’t expect!
Of course, Jesus didn’t pay the Temple tax just to show Peter how much he loved him. He was also setting an example: go and do likewise. Be patient with the people around you.
Do you have a friend or family member who is struggling with their faith? Are you close to someone who is not living out a particular teaching of the Church? Don’t give up on them, and by all means don’t condemn them! Be as kind and generous with them as you can. The last thing you need is to become a stumbling block on their journey to Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, I trust you, even when I don’t understand you.”
Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20
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