Sunday, August 07, 2005



AUGUST 8, 2005

Moses said to the people: "And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your
God, ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways
exactly, to love and serve the LORD, your God, with all your heart and
all your soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD which
I enjoin on you today for your own good? Think! The heavens, even the
highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and
everything on it. Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so
attached to them as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to
all other peoples, as indeed he has now done. Circumcise your hearts,
therefore, and be no longer stiff-necked. For the LORD, your God, is
the God of gods, the LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,
who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the
orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing
him. So you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens
yourselves in the land of Egypt. The LORD, your God, shall you fear,
and him shall you serve; hold fast to him and swear by his name. He is
your glory, he, your God, who has done for you those great and terrible
things which
your own eyes have seen. Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy
strong, and now the LORD, your God, has made you as numerous as the
stars of the sky."

MATTHEW 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."

There is a lot of contrast in today's readings. We read about God's
awesome majesty in the first reading and then in the gospel, Jesus
mentions the second prediction of his passion by saying that he will
die a cruel and humiliating death. He does not emphasize however, about
his rising on the third day. In a puzzling manner, we also read in
today's gospel of Jesus saying that there is a fish in the nearby sea
with a coin in its mouth to pay for the temple tax!

Perhaps the message of today's readings is a reminder for us to respect
God's all-powerful glory and majesty. If we try to connect today's
gospel message with that of the first reading, we realize that God's
majesty isn't the stuff of royalty that requires the reverence or
servility of palatial kings and queens.

Jesus emphasizes his coming death and suffering but also tells of his
rising from the dead. He however emphasizes more on his suffering than
his resurrection as if to stress to us that although he will defy death
through resurrection, he is also as much a part of the human race and
that God loves us. Jesus is still very much God even if he is human
who is destined for horrible suffering and death.

In our busy lives, we oftentimes take God's awesome power and
majesty for granted. As a result, we begin to forget God's power and
love for us. We can avoid these pitfalls by being more alert and
appreciative of the small miracles we see every day. For however small
a miracle these may be, it becomes a reminder to us of God's might and

"Lord Jesus, your death brought life and freedom. May I always walk in
that freedom and be guided by your love and truth that I may be
generous towards all and give each their due."

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