Monday of the 19th Week of the Year

Matt 17:22-27

Payment of the Temple Tax


When I was assigned in Dinagat, Surigao del Norte I observed that my parishioners actively helped in the uplifting the meager financial status of the parish according to their abilities. They assisted in various ways like offering more mass intentions, asking donations for the parish from their children and relatives who are working outside the parish, giving tithes, rendering manual services for free or a minimal fee, teaching catechism for free, etc. once there was an old widow who offered a “thanksgiving mass” and gave her only 500 pesos. I refused to accept all her money since that was her monthly allowance for food from her children who left her alone in their old and simple house. But she forbade me, and instead said: “God is always good to me and to my family. We need to take care of our Church financially so that the Word of God will continue to spread in our parish.”

In what concrete way do we show our concern for our parish or church or nation? For the church or any nation to grow, conscientious and responsible citizens are needed. Every able Christian is encouraged to support the church spiritually as well as materially and to pay taxes to the government. Jesus himself affirmed the obligation to pay temple taxes. He corroborated this when He said: “Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s but give to God what is God’s” (Mk 12:17).

A good Christian is a good citizen and a good citizen fulfills his/her obligations. (Fr. Peru T. Dayag, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


Today’s gospel brings two messages to the fore:

  1. Responsibility. In one of the parishes where I worked some elders were overheard saying that they will not pay church dues since their role in the church is enough to cover up for their dues. In the gospel today the temple tax collectors asked the Lord to pay his tax. Jesus after a discussion with his disciples concluded that they are not under strict obligation to pay the tax but he is still told Peter to get a fish, to pay their taxes. He showed that He was responsible to contribute to the support of the temple. Jesus could have easily evaded this tax by flaunting some of the wonderful things he had been doing. He could have also asked Matthew (since he was a former tax collector) go and see some of the “big fish” at the tax office to exempt them from paying taxes. He chose to be responsible.
  2. Miracle. There are many people who follow itinerant or TV preachers who claim to be miracle workers. These followers have either become so blind to the miracles in their lives each day or they have taken them for granted. Miracles are being worked in our eyes of our hearts to see these miracles. Jesus told Peter to go and catch a fish and he will find a coin in the mouth of the first fish he will catch which will be enough to pay for the taxes. For many, this is a miracle. However, if Jesus were to say to the disciples: “”let’s go to the lake, do some fishing all night, sell and use the proceeds to pay our taxes,” this couldn’t be a miracle. Why? Was God’s hand not in both events? Let us begin to see the miracles in our life each day. When you wake up in the morning, look into the mirror and you will see the wonderful work of art – a miracle.  That miracle is YOU…. (Fr. Tony Aminah, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


It is often said that there are two constants in life: changes and taxes! Changes are inevitable “hellos and goodbyes and hellos!” taxes are either demanded by the state or by the church for services to be enjoyed by all. Of old, the Romans taxed their conquered colonies to maintain their empire and their luxurious lifestyles. The Jews taxed all 20-year old males to maintain the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, in most Third World countries, we say that taxes are demanded of the people to maintain the corrupt lifestyles of government officials.

In today’s gospel, Jesus paid His temple tax although He knew He was the Messiah! This was to avoid giving a bad example to other faithful Jews. Jesus knew that after His passion and resurrection, His followers need not pay this tax anymore. He also knew that around 70 A.D., the temple will be completely destroyed by the Romans and never to be rebuilt. Perhaps our Lord is telling us, too, that Christianity and good citizenship go hand in hand. Sometimes paying taxes might be very difficult to do when corrupt government officials abound. However, a failure in good citizenship is also a failure in being a good Christian! Do you believe this? Then go ahead and live it! (Fr. Flor Camacho, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


An old man collapsed on a Brooklyn street and was taken to Kings County Hospital. From a blurred address in the man’s wallet, nurses tried to decipher the name and address of a marine, who appeared to be his son. Them put an emergency call for the marine.

When the marine arrived, the old man reached out his hand feebly. The marine took it and held it tenderly for the next four hours, until the old man died.

After the man passed away, the marine asked: “who was that old man?” The nurse said: “Wasn’t that your father?” “No,” said the marine, “but I saw he needed a son, so I stayed.” (Mark Link, SJ, Daily Homilies).

In the first reading, the Israelites are reminded of Yahweh’s deeds: “he helps orphans and widows, and he loves foreigners and gives them food and clothes. You must love foreigners because you were foreigners yourselves in Egypt.” (Deut 10:18-19)

Are we really ready and willing like that marine in our story to befriend strangers to the point of inconveniencing ourselves and to love foreigners as the Lord enjoins us in Deuteronomy?

In the gospel, Matthew gives a hint that Jesus paid the Temple tax in His lifetime, even though He was the Son of God and somehow exempt, so to speak. He showed people a good example; He paid the Temple tax so as not to cause scandal.

Matthew is showing us a good point: our criteria for doing something should not be whether we have an obligation or not. Rather, it should be: what does love ask of us under these circumstances?

Indeed, we should ask ourselves not “how far can we go before we sin,” rather, “how much more can we do because we love?” This we show by doing and giving the best we can. (Fr. Fred Mislang, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


During Christ’s time, Roman citizens didn’t pay Roman taxes. Only countries subject to Rome had to pay Roman taxes. In the same way, the members of a king’s family didn’t have to pay taxes levied by the king. These facts are important as they help shed light on today’s reading.

Those Jews who converted to Christianity continued to meet, gather and pray in the Temple. As they gathered now and then, they somehow wondered whether to pay or not to pay the Temple tax. St. Matthew tells us that Jesus paid the temple tax in His lifetime; though as God’s Son, he was exempt, so to speak. Still Jesus paid the tax so that they too should pay the same lest they cause scandal.

St. Matthew is showing us a good point here. Our criteria for doing something should not be whether we have an obligation or not. Rather it should be: what does love seem to ask of us in a particular situation?

So instead of asking ourselves, “How far can we go before we sin?” We ask rather, “How much more can we do because we love?” (Fr. Fred Mislang, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


God loves a cheerful giver.

Robert Rodenmayer in his book, Thanks be to God, says that there are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanks giving.

The grudge giver says, “I hate to give.” This person gives little, for “the gift without the giver is bare.”

A duty giver says, “I ought to give.” This person gives more, but there is no song in his giving.

A thanks giver says, “I want to give.” This person gives everything, and shows forth the image of God to the world.

What kind of giver do we tend to be most of the time?

The rabbis have a saying that the best kind of giving is when the giver does not know to whom he is giving and when the receiver does not know from whom he is receiving.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence (August 10) who exemplifies the thanks giver. He did not only give his services as a deacon but he gave his life, so he could show forth the image of God to the world. (Fr. Denny Lucas, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


August 8, 2016 Monday

As Son of God Jesus was exempt from the Temple tax in his Father’s house. Not knowing this, the collectors might misinterpret a non-payment for lack of faith or as an indirect encouragement to disregard this law, weakening their convictions on tax paying. Jesus pays the tax to avoid the possibility of scandal.

Actually, the apostle Paul gives similar advice to the Corinthians: eat all kinds of food, but if that off ends the feelings of a weaker or ignorant brother, then don’t eat so as not to scandalize him.  This scandal of the weak and ignorant is always a danger when we live in a community of faith.

Some people simply do not have our degree of religious education. What we know we can do without sinning, they often consider a sin. If we disregard their opinion as childish or misinformed, we run the risk of their imitating us with a bad conscience and the guilt feeling of having sinned.

And so, for the sake of fraternal love, we must sometimes abstain from what we know in conscience we are allowed to do. It is all a matter of love. Love does no harm. Love does not scandalize.  But we will strive to educate our weaker brothers and sisters in the faith and bring them to a better understanding of what are Christian obligations and what are not. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD | CKMS, QC Bible Diary 2016)



WORK AND MIRACLE. Let me clarify a point very carefully before I go on. When the Lord said: “You are going to catch a fish and you will see a coin inside the mouth of the fish. Therefore at that point, pay the tax.” That does not refer to any miraculous catch. It is not a miracle. What it actually means is this you have a debt to pay, you have a loan to pay, you have a tax to pay. If you have a obligation, go to the sea and fish for the whole day, you will have enough money to pay your loan, to pay your debts, to pay your tax. In other words, this gospel is not about a miraculous catch of a fish with a coin inside the mouth. This gospel is about hard work.

What the Lord says is if we have debts to pay, work so that we will be able to pay them. Don’t just ask me for a miracle. Don’t just pray the rosary and ask for a miracle so that we will be able to pay our debt. Don’t just go to Mass. Don’t just go the Adoration Chapel and kneel 24 hours a day. Don’t wait for the fish to land on our lap with a coin inside its mouth. What it means is work hard! What the Lord says is very simply what we have learned at home since our youth, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Miracles do happen, but what is important to remember is we must not abuse miracles. We must not ask for a miracle when hard work can do it. We must not ask God to do if through our own hard work we can achieve our goals. We must not just ask the Lord for a job then watch television all day long, sipping our soft drink, and expecting the Lord to give us a job. We must do our work. Unfortunately, it is so simply and yet so difficult. While we have been repeatedly told that we must work hard and work glorifies God, we are a people with original sin, tending toward laziness. (Bp Soc Villegas Love Like Jesus p.176)


TO SERVE IS A GRACE (Mt 17:24): We need a little backgrounder on the difference between the Roman system of taxation and our present system of taxation.

The present system of taxation requires everybody to pay taxes, from the president down to the ordinary Filipino. But the Roman taxation system was different in that only the non-Romans paid taxes. In other words, the non-Romans were the ones supporting the Romans. If you were a Roman in Rome or even in Israel, you never paid taxes, because taxes were only paid by non-Romans.

That is why when the Lord asked, “Who pays taxes? Is it the Romans or the foreigners? Who pays taxes? Is it the sons and daughters of the king or those outside the kingdom?” naturally, the answer was, “Those outside the kingdom. Those who are foreigners.”

The question is this. Did the Lord pay temple taxes? Technically, Roman law says, he should not have paid the taxes. Why, because the temple was His. He was God. Technically, He did not have to pay taxes because He was God and what was paid to the temple belonged to Him. He was, in a manner of speaking, saying, “This is my temple, so I don’t have to pay rent here.”

But the Lord paid taxes, nevertheless, not out of duty, but out of love. The Lord paid the temple tax, not out of duty but because He wanted to edify other people. In other words, He was doing it out of love.

How does this apply to us? Dear brothers and sisters, I must remind you, you are the sons and daughters of God. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we are freed from obligations, duties and collections. We are freed from donations. We are freed from giving gifts.

But the point is this when you make a donation to the Lord or to the poor, when you do an act of service, when you go to Mass on Sundays and even on weekdays, you do it out of love.

You know I am always edified by the old priest of the EDSA Shrine, Fr. Fritz when Araneta, our confessor in the afternoon. Every time I see him after confessions, I tell him, “Thank you, Father, for helping us with the confessions.” And always Fr. Fritz tells me, “Thank you. I should thank you for the opportunity to help.” (Socrates Villegas, Jesus Loves You, pp. 134-135)



August 13, 2012

St. Pontian, pope, and St. Hippolytus, priest, martyrs
(OptM) RED

Monday of the 19th Week

Ez 1:2-5, 24-28c
Ps 148
Mt 17:22-27

Payment of the Temple Tax 

22As [Jesus and his disciples] were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, 23and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief.

24When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25“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?” 26When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. 27But 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.”


Temple tax. Every male Jew is obliged to pay tax for the upkeep of the Temple. Priests and rabbis are exempted from paying. Furthermore, the Roman Empire exacts taxes from foreigners, not from its subjects or citizens.

Being a Jewish rabbi, Jesus is not required to pay. Yet Jesus orders Peter to pay. Why? Jesus wants to avoid giving scandal or bad example. He waives his right of being exempted in order not to offend the Temple authorities.

In paying, Jesus asks Peter to go back to his former occupation, fishing. Jesus points out to Peter that the money for the Temple tax must come from their own labor, from their own sweat. Jesus thus shows not only his reverence for the Temple, his respect for authorities and regulations, but also the value of honest work and God’s providential care.

How do we show respect for the laws of the State and to the commandments of the Church? 
Do you appreciate the honest work of your hands and that of others?


v. 27: “But that we may not offend them.” Far from being a ‘crowd pleaser,’ Jesus is simply sensitive to the sentiments of others. In spite His religious beliefs, He did not excuse Himself to attend to His civic duties. Pay your taxes religiously. We are in the world, though not of the world (Fr. Ching OP).


Spirituality includes financial affairs: In another part of Scripture, Jesus said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” Spirituality consists of not simple prayer and other spiritual exercises, but attitudes of daily life. it includes the way we run our marriage, our business, our friendships, our money matters. Real conversion of life then includes the payment of long overdue liabilities and debts. Hence, one begins life anew without bondages, even financial ones. (Fr. Domie Guzman SSP, New Every Morning New Everyday, Makati: St. Pauls, 2006:245)


MONDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) – MATEO 17:22-27. Sala ba ang dili pagbayad og buhis ngadto sa pangagamhanan? Ang ideya sa pagbayad og buhis gimugna para sa kaayohan sa bagang katawhan. Ang pundo nga matigom gikan sa buhis sa mga tawo gamiton sa pangagamhanan alang sa paghatag og saktong serbisyo ngadto sa katawhan. Tungod kay si Jesus Anak man sa Dios, dili na unta Siya angay’ng mohatag og buhis. Apan gipili niya ang paghatag og buhis ngadto sa templo aron sa paghatag og maayong ehemplo ngadto sa mga tawo. Ang pagbayad og saktong buhis maoy usa ka pamaagi sa paghigugma sa mga silingan, ilabina sa mga kabos ug nanginahanglan. Ang buhis mahimong daotan kon kini pangayoon sa dili maki-angayong paagi, o kaha gamiton alang sa daotang katuyoan. Sa ingon nga kahimtang, ang pagbayad og buhis dili na obligasyon nga angay natong sundon. Posted by Abet Uy


MATEO 17:22-27. ANGAY BA KITANG MOHATAG OG SAKTONG BUHIS NGADTO SA PANGAGAMHANAN? Ang ideya sa pagbayad og buhis gimugna para sa kaayohan sa bagang katawhan. Ang pundo nga matigom gikan sa buhis sa mga tawo gamiton sa pangagamhanan alang sa paghatag og maayong serbisyo sa katilingban. Tungod kay si Hesus Anak man sa Dios, wala na unta siyay labot sa obligasyon sa buhis. Apan gipili niya ang paghatag og buhis ngadto sa nagdumala sa templo alang sa kaayohan ug kalamboan sa tanan. Kon atong sabton og maayo, ang pagbayad og saktong buhis maoy usa ka pamaagi sa paghigugma sa mga silingan, ilabina sa mga kabos ug nanginahanglan. Si Alain de Botton nag-ingon: “Paying tax should be framed as a glorious civic duty worthy of gratitude – not as a punishment for making money.” Posted by Abet Uy



Reflection for Monday August 11, Saint Clare, Virgin; Matthew 17:22-27 – Reflection: To pay or not to pay the temple tax? Of course Jesus did the right thing when He decided to pay not only for himself but for peter as well. What if Jesus decided not to pay the temple tax? He would have been a bad example to His followers and He would have given His opponents a window of opportunity to persecute Him earlier than expected.

For Jesus to do what is right was always His top priority to do wrong was never in His mind it was always to do whatever is good and right. And we must always  do good and do right also all the time.

Although we are not required to give a certain percentage of our income to the church. In hindsight this gospel invites us also to examine our generosity toward our church, how generous are we in giving to our church? For example during Holy Mass, how generous are we during offertory? Do we give an amount that will hurt our pockets or we give out from our spare or crumbs?

We must give generously for whatever we give generously to the church the Good Lord will give  back to us a hundredfold. We can never outgive God for the more that we give Him the more that we will receive from Him.

Are we generous to our church and to our fellowmen? – mjdasma Posted by: Marino J. Dasmarinas


VALUE OF HARD WORK: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” – Matthew 17:22-23

They say that people are motivated by reward and punishment. Carrot and stick. Pleasure and suffering. Prize and pain. Yet why is it that even if we know the good and the ultimate reward, we still succumb to the dark side? Because there is fleeting pleasure in things that lead to sin.

Today’s society is driven by two forces: the culture of the instant and the principle of hard work.

The culture of the instant creates people who are experts at shortcuts and quick-fixes. Along this line, Bishop Teodoro Bacani said, “Beware of the people nowadays, who are becoming millionaires without even a single effort.”

The Bible is clear about hard work from as early as Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your brow comes the food that you eat.” Instant breeds laziness. Hard work breeds perseverance.

Instant makes idlers. Hard work makes key actors.

Instant is for losers. Hard work is for champions.

Let’s imitate the Jesus model. He was willing to do the difficult because His eyes were fixed on heavenly rewards: the beatific vision, union with God and eternal bliss. Obet Cabrillas (

Reflection: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Lord, let me focus on You and Your eternal rewards.


1ST READING: There are some spectacular descriptions of epiphanies in the Book of Ezekiel and this is the first of them. What do they mean? I believe it is merely the author’s way to convey that there is something important and even divine involved in the visions. Their spectacular nature demonstrates their origin, namely God, and so when Ezekiel speaks of such visions, he is speaking of the Word of God to the people. Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28

GOSPEL: Jesus is not an anarchist; He submits to the reasonable demands of the law. There is no way He would let any secular law override His conscience judgment. Therefore, paying taxes is one of the duties of any member of society. We demand that the government provides certain services — they have to be paid for — hence, taxes. We cannot necessarily pick and choose what taxes to pay because that would result in chaos and probably very few taxes being  paid. Paul teaches us that secular governments can make demands upon us (Romans 13), provided they do not infringe on the rights of our consciences. Matthew 17:22-27

think:  Paying taxes is one of the duties of any member of society.


WHAT IS FREEDOM? This question is similar to the one that Pilate asks Jesus: “What is truth?” The answers to both questions are related, as there can be no freedom without acting for the truth. The proper exercise of human freedom can only be done in relation with the truth of the human person — that is, according to who we have been created by God. Anything that is not true to our human dignity, while it may be a free act, is an abuse of the gift of freedom given to us by God. Laws are designed to guide us along the right path and help us to discern whether or not what we are about to do is a good act or not.

In the Gospel today, Jesus confronts the question of legitimate authority. All sorts of people have and exercise authority in our lives. Jesus makes it clear that when an authority is a legitimate one, then we have a duty to obey it. It is not up to us to decide what we want to do at any particular time. This curbing of absolute freedom can be seen to be for the common good. It is the common good of humanity that recognizes that we cannot have absolute freedom as this would preclude any sort of human community to which we could belong. Absolute freedom is known by the name “anarchy.”

We live in communities because we need the support of one another. We cannot live fully human lives as solitary individuals. It is impossible to live without reference to other human beings. Jesus wants us to respect the laws of the society as long as they are truly moral. No one is obligated to obey an immoral law, no matter who is issuing it. At the same time, if we want to challenge a particular law, we cannot simply express our dislike for it but we must have a reasoned and well-organized argument to support our position. This is called “freedom of conscience,” something that is, or at least should be, enshrined in our laws or national constitutions. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: What does freedom mean to you?

Jesus, help me to know what it means to act according to the human nature with which You endowed us. Help me to be an example of generosity and care to every person I meet.


August 8, 2016

REFLECTION: The historical background of today’s gospel episode is that, at the time of Jesus (that is, before the temple of Jerusalem was des­troyed in 70 A.D.), every male Jew of nineteen years old and older had to make an annual contribution for the upkeep of the temple (cf. Ex 30:11-16; Neh 10:33; 2 Chr 24:6, 9).

Now, since Jesus and his followers belong to the Kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus’ reasoning in this passage, they are not bound to pay a tax imposed on those who are not of the Kingdom. This is all the more true in the case of Jesus because, in the strict sense of the word, he is the “Son of the King.” Therefore, the King’s tax (God’s tax) is not for Jesus and his “brothers.”

Once this point is made clear to Peter, then Jesus goes on to say that, even though he and Peter have no obligation to pay the temple tax because of their very special relationship to God, nevertheless they will pay it “so as not to offend the people” collecting that tax.

This teaching of Jesus should inspire our own behavior. Our charity towards our neighbor should be such that, as much as is reasonably possible, we should avoid giving offense.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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