Daily Reflection
August 9th, 2004
Roc O'Connor, S.J.
Theology Department and Campus Ministry
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For all of you that love to tell stories about fishing, top this one in today's gospel:  "Open the fish's mouth and you will find money to pay your taxes!"

What does it mean?  I haven't the foggiest idea.  But it does seem to strike two powerful themes that are quite timely today, those of freedom and concern for the least ones.

What is interesting is that Jesus implicitly puts the collectors of the temple tax in the category of the least ones.  Look ahead to chapter 18.  Jesus is concerned for the least ones.  It's amazing that he puts minor chancery-type bureaucrats in such a category, isn't it?

He doesn't want to scandalize these folks (That's the literal meaning of the Greek word, which is translated here as "offend").  So, he redefines freedom.  It doesn't mean, "You can't touch me, I'm free!" It doesn't mean, "I can do whatever I want to do!"

Rather, freedom means giving way to another.  Freedom means letting go of one's will.  Freedom means, as we see at the beginning of this passage, that one enters into the dying and rising of Jesus.

Don't you just hate to hear that?  I'd much rather find that freedom means that I get to have what I want and when I want it.  So, all in all, this fish story seems more like an instruction in the true meaning of freedom of the children of God.

"And they were all overwhelmed with grief."

A final note: Who are the "least ones?"  Well, I think that they are the ones we don't necessarily want to name as such.  But, what occurs to me is that it is an act of power to be able to name (and not name) those who are the least ones.

Blessings this end of summertime!  ("And they were all overwhelmed with grief.")


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