Aug 12 (Mt 17:22-27 and Feast of St Jane de Chantal)

A very wealthy and pious Christian lady was used to share God’s blessings to others…

… by giving bread and soup personally to the poor who came to her door.

Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave…

… go around the house

… and get back in line for more!

When asked why she let these people get away with this, the lady would reply:

“What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?”

This lady was Jane…

… St Jane Frances de Chantal – whose feast we celebrate today.

St Jane de Chantal is the Founder of the Visitation Congregation, along with St Francis de Sales, her spiritual friend and director.

St Jane de Chantal, with a personal experience, understood the generosity of God’s Sacrificial Love…

… and invited others to open their eyes to see the magnanimity of God’s Mercy.

The Lord displayed His Immense Generosity and Magnanimous Mercy by paying a “ransom” to save His people

>> He spared no efforts in getting His people released..

… by suffering on the Cross

… shedding His Blood

… giving up His life

… and rising from the dead

Have we fallen in love with this King Who gave Himself up for us?

>> Are we willing to live our life in obedience and in imitation of His commands Who ransomed His life for us?

The Gospel of the Day presents an interesting, yet a ‘not-too-familiar’ passage of Jesus and His disciples being asked to pay the Temple tax.

“When Jesus and His disciples came to Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the Temple tax?” (Mt 17: 24)

What was this Temple tax?

The Temple tax was …

… a symbolic gesture in gratitude for what the people of Israel owed to God, for their redemption from slavery in the land of Egypt.

It was a Jewish tax with its origins seen in Ex 30: 12-16:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel… The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.”

This offering was to be an “atonement money”, which would be used for the service of the meeting tent (Ex 12: 16)

In later centuries, this half-shekel was adopted as the amount of the Temple Tax – the one that all Jews were supposed to pay once a year for the upkeep and maintenance of the Jerusalem Temple.

The Temple Tax was thus an “atonement” money

>> It was a “ransom” money!

It is fascinating to note that the incident of this “ransom/atonement” money  is mentioned immediately after Jesus spoke of His Passion and Death.

Jesus told His disciples in Mt 17:22-23:

“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”

The incident of the Temple tax, which is the atonement/ransom money, is mentioned…

… immediately after Jesus speaks of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Is there any connection between these two incidents?

The Temple tax was in gratitude for the redemption of Israel from slavery

… Jesus would now free all people from the slavery of sin by His Death and Resurrection

The Temple Tax was paid as “ransom” money…

… The Blood of Jesus would now be the “ransom” that will be paid for redemption of humanity.

Jesus did not resist His disciples from paying the Temple Tax…

… as we would see in the incident of the miraculous catch of the fish with a coin in the mouth (Mt 17: 27)

But the perfect payment of the “tax”…

… would be done by Jesus Himself – by His Sufferings, Death and Resurrection!

Jesus would not just pay the tax…

… He would also give Himself in complete obedience to the Father

Thus, He would becoming the “tax” – the ransom and the atonement money!

>> 1 Tim 2:6 says, “Jesus gave Himself as a ‘ransom’ for all”

>> Mk 10:45 says “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ‘ransom’ for many”

It is interesting to also note that this incident of the Temple Tax brings reminds us of the former occupation (trade) of two of the disciples of Jesus:

1. Matthew… who was a tax collector (Mt 9:9)

(Probably that explains why this incident is mentioned only in the Gospel of St Matthew)

2. Peter… who was a fisherman (Mt 4:18)

(That’s why Jesus asks Peter to “go to the sea, take the first fish that comes up, and open the mouth to find a coin…”)

Matthew and Peter could represent any of us…

Maybe, like Mathew –  the Tax Collector…

>> We are collecting a lot of things in life…

… but still not finding peace in life!

>> We are occupied with material dimensions at our “own tables”…

… or find ourselves at the receiving end of not being accepted and being looked down by others.

Maybe, like Peter – the fisherman…

>> We are fishing in the waters of life for contentment and satisfaction…

.. but fail to have a catch!

>> We are putting in a lot of effort to fish for success, yet finding none…

… or find ourselves drowning in a sea of sin, hopelessness or despair

Whoever we are..

>> The Lord extends His loving invitation…

… to leave our “tables of collection” and follow Him!

… to cast away our “nets of fish” and follow Him!

He has become the “Ransom”…

… in Whom we can find the ‘collection’ of all joys and contentment of life!

… in Whom we can witness the ‘great catch’ of salvation and redemption!

By this great act, He gave the “Ransom”…

… for our freedom from captivity!

>> By His humbling sacrifice, He paid the “Atonement money”…

… for our salvation for eternal life!

Yes, let us fall in love with the Man Who gave Himself up for us!

>> Let us be willing to live our life in obedience and imitation of His commands Who ransomed His life for us!

Let us seek the intercession of St Jane Frances de Chantal in turning towards the Generous Sacrificial Love of Christ and His Mercy…

… and be inspired by her words:

“Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you.

>> Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord…

… after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one.

>> Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Lord would never exhort the faithful to persevere…

… if he were not ready to give them the power to do so!”

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