Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“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 ...” (Matthew 17:27.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on these verses from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“This coin was not in Jesus’ house but happened to be in the mouth of a fish in the sea. This too, I think, was a result of God’s kindness. It was caught and came up on the hook belonging to Peter, who was the fisher of men. That which is figuratively called a fish was caught in order that the coin with the image of Caesar might be taken from it, that it might take its place among those which were caught by them who have learned to become fishers of men. Let him, then, who has the things of Caesar render them to Caesar, that afterwards he may be able to render to God the things of God. But since Jesus is the image of God the unseen and did not have the image of Caesar (for there was nothing in him that had anything to do with the prince of this world), he therefore took the image of Caesar from a suitable place in the sea, so as to pay it to the kings of the earth as the contribution of himself and his disciple. Jesus did this so that those taking the half-shekel might not suppose Jesus to be in debt either to them or to the kings of the earth. For he paid the debt, one he had never taken on or possessed or used to buy anything or made his personal possession, to prevent the image of Caesar ever being alongside the image of the invisible God” (Commentary on Matthew)

Almighty ever-living God,
Whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as Your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which You have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen