Tuesday 2nd March 2021
Photo By טל Etan Tal, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons>
Fish and taxes!
One of the good things about living in the northeast of Scotland is our access to extremely fresh and diverse fish and seafood. The local fish van on its weekly visit to the village has an amazing selection, all freshly landed from Peterhead. Favourites in our house include a fish supper, Cullen skink, Halibut, Salmon and Prawn Risotto.
The Temple Tax
After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
The story of the coin in the fish’s mouth, is the only recorded miracle of Jesus where he seeks not to offend people. The species of fish is thought to be a Galilean Tilapia – also known as St. Peter's fish. They have been fished for generations and make good eating! But what exactly does the story of the coin in the fish’s mouth mean?
The traditional understanding of the miracle is that Jesus is demonstrating the freedom and blessing of God’s Kingdom. Normally the family of the ruler were exempt from taxation. Whilst being Christians does not exempt us from paying income tax, our faith does make us part of God’s family and we share in the inheritance of God’s kingdom. Love and forgiveness, mercy, and grace, blessing and eternity and so much more are all ours for the asking!
But I think there is more to this story than fish and taxes! What was the expression on Jesus’ face where he told Peter to go and catch a fish? Was Jesus looking all pious and deadly serious? Or was Jesus wearing a smile? Does this passage also teach that God has a sense of humour and remind us of the importance of joy and laughter?
by St. Thomas More
Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good
and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.
A Poem by Mari Fitz-Wynn
His name is a complete sentence.
His name is an entire prayer.
His name alone brings healing.
His name guarantees salvation.
His name quenches the thirsty soul and fills the soul's hunger.
His name is the perfect solution to every problem.
His name can resolve conflict.
He brings peace and calm into every situation.
His name is protection.
His name brings light when darkness is all around.
His name is music, it is the sweetest melody.
His name is joy unspeakable.
His name is perfect.
His name is altogether lovely, magnificent, glorious.
His name is Emmanuel, He is God with us.
May God the Father,
who does not despise the broken spirit,
give to you a contrite heart.
who bore our sins in his body on the tree,
heal you by his wounds.
May the Holy Spirit,
who leads us into all truth,
speak to you words of pardon and peace.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Photo By איתן טל Etan Tal - s://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7929789