The Good News for the Day, August 14, 2017
Monday of the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time (413)
When Jesus and his friends and followers got together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be handed over to men; they will kill him, but he will be raised on the third day.” They felt overwhelmed with anxiety. When they came down to Capernaum, collectors of the empire’s tax on Jews for the temple approached Peter and asked, “Won’t your leader pay the temple tax?” “Sure,” he told them. When he came into the house—even before he opened his mouth to speak—Jesus asked, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the rulers of the earth collect tolls or the census tax? From their own constituents or from outsiders?” When Simon said, “From outsiders,” Jesus said to him, “Then the constituents are exempt. But just so that we may not offend people, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find money worth twice the temple tax that is due. Give that to them for me and for you.” (Matthew 17)
Jesus obeys the laws, though he is free of them. This is complex, but it is important to reflect. Much like the Christian—the Catholic in particular—Jesus knows that a requirement to “keep holy the Sabbath” means going to pray on Sunday. The traditional lists of sins include missing Sunday church.
In some ways, attendance at church defines the religious person—which the denomination or secular polls keep track of. You should attend church—according to tradition and leaders in the culture of our Christian world.
Yet fewer Christians attend church. Are they committing sin by not “keeping holy the Sabbath day”—the way that Jesus might be hurting his community (and God) by refusing or neglecting to pay the tax in the upkeep of the temple? The essence of both “requirements” is very similar in both cases.
In the end, following Jesus, we need to look for our relation to the Father. Elsewhere (Matthew 6) Jesus reminds us not to go into the House of Prayer if our brother or sister has something against us—be reconciled first! Consider that requirement of Jesus, and weave love into your worship, and you may find that you are free not to go—but you WANT to pray in the community of your church—as part of the Body of Christ. Yes, you need to reflect on it.