Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 28 Year 1
“However, so that we do not give offence to them, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.’” (Matthew 17:27)
Peter is questioned in Capernaum about the Temple tax for the Temple in Jerusalem of Judea. After having visited the Holy Land and seen firsthand the geographical layout of Israel, I can see why the Temple has to tax the people to the north in Galilee. Jerusalem has no real natural resources. It is a big dry mountain whereas the area around Galilee to the north is very fertile. Money then is used to buy products, especially food products that probably originated in Galilee in the first place.
Jesus has the fisherman Peter to go and catch a fish from Lake Galilee which was his livelihood in the first place and have that fish pay for the human requirement. Jesus also had Paul depend on his former skill as a tentmaker to pay for his material needs. (Acts 18:3) Should we look then to our community skills as a fall-back way to take care of ourselves while carrying out the message of the Gospel?
While in seminary I told my spiritual advisor that I wanted to be a working priest, that is, a priest with a secular job while also leading a parish. He said that if he was looking for a priest for his church he would not even consider me. It idea was that they would want a priest whose total focus was on the people of the parish and nothing else. As I look back, I wish I had stuck to my inclination. Many Christian traditions have ministers who also hold down work outside their congregations. Why not us too?
I will from this point on be an Episcopal priest. I will not always be a rector (in charge of a parish). So, in the end, having a community vocation was not such a bad idea. All of us should have a way that we provide some useful service in our communities. We can, and should, be living examples of the love of Jesus as we work alongside others. Maybe I need to go find my fish.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+