“Falling in love with the One Who gave Himself up for our atonement and salvation!”
(Based on Deut 10:12-22 and Mt 17:22-27 – Monday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time)
An incident is told about a master painter, who had a very fervent student-disciple.
The master was suffering from a severe bout of arthritis.
It was very painful for him to paint.
He had to hold his brush between his thumb and index finger.
And as he painted, the student-disciple often heard him crying out in pain.
On one such occasion, the student asked the old master:
“Why do you go on painting, if it hurts so much?”
The master looked up to his disciple, and with an assuring smile replied:
“Remember always, son…
… Pain passes, but beauty remains!”
Every selfless act of suffering and struggle indeed leaves an imprint of lasting beauty and splendour.
In the canvas of Salvation History, the Son of Man indeed had to go through much suffering…
… but the painting finally reveals the Great Truth: “PAIN PASSES, BUT BEAUTY REMAINS!”
The painting of salvation indeed displays immense Generosity and magnanimous Mercy of the Lord, Who paid 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 MASTER Who gave Himself up for us?
Are we willing to live our life in obedience, and in imitation of the command of Him, 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:
- Matthew… who was a tax collector (Mt 9:9)
(Probably that explains why this incident is mentioned only in the Gospel of St Matthew)
- 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!
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!
When our Christian witnessing takes us through struggles and pains, let’s be grateful to our Crucified Lord, remembering: “PAIN PASSES, BUT BEAUTY REMAINS!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
“HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN”
Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is He who also ascended far above all the heavens.”
The Apostles’ Creed confesses in the same article Christ’s descent into hell and His Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in His Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that He made life spring forth: “Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed His peaceful light on all mankind, Your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen!” (Cf. CCC # 631)