1 September 2013

posted 29 Aug 2013, 06:35 by C S Paul
1 September 2013

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

The Third Sunday after Shunoyo - the Festival of the Assumption

Gospel Reading for this Sunday

Matthew 17:22-27 - New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.

23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

The Temple Tax

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak.“What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 

27 “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Devotional Thoughts for the Third Sunday After Soonoyo

by Rev. Fr. Prakash K. Kuriakose, Idukki

Refer to today’s Evangelion St: Matthew’s Gospel 17:24-27

This is a very interesting paragraph having a great extent of philosophical meaning.

Even the early fathers tried to personify the fish, which gave forth the coin to the Mother herself (Mary).

Let us just concentrate on verse 27 only.

"However, so that we do not give offence to them."

Almost all of the religions teach that we should do well and it will be rewarded and the goodness eventually leads to salvation. But only Christianity teaches it in a different perspective. Christianity proclaims that besides the attainment of personal salvation, each of us has a prophetic concern too. That is to say the fruits of the goodness of one will be shared by all and the evil done by one person is responsible not only for the mishaps to that person but to the calamities occurring to others, surroundings and to the universe as a whole! The co-ordination of the universe depends on the words and deeds of human being and the evil done by us will imbalance the harmony of the universe.

See the result of the sin of one man cited at Gen 3:18 " ……..thorns and thistles it shall bring forth …" The thorns and thistles are not part of God’s creation, instead the product of human disobedience.

Also refer Chapter 7 of the book of Joshua where the sin of Áchan resulted shame and tragedy to the whole Israel.

Likewise we have a responsibility to uplift others.

Or at least not to offer offence to them.

Jesus confirms that he is exempted from paying the temple taxes as the money is levied for the support of the temple of which He is the lord. But He teaches Peter not to be a stumbling block to others by their nonpayment. Instead He commands him to go to sea and cast a hook, take the first fish and give the didrachma coin for both of them.

The children of God are subject to all civil laws in the places where they live and should pay the taxes levied on them by public authority even though any of these should be found unjust. They rebel not, as their duty is not to reform the politics of nations, but the morals of the World. (Ref Peter 2:13)

Be very cautious not to be stumbling block to others who might be less intellectual than you. Refer the policy to be taken as advised by St Paul, 1 Cor 8:9 "But take care that this liberty of yours does not some how become a stumbling block to the weak." The lifestyle, environment, capabilities, limitations, etc of each one of us is person specific and never be compared with that of others at any rate we must have a tolerance and concern to others.

"Each one for all and all for each" the proverbial slogan of ancient sailors is ever significant to Christian life. Refer Rom 5:19 "….by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous…….."

Jesus teaches Peter that he must be concerned about others by paying the tax even though they are not liable to do so.

Secondly, He ordered Peter to go and work for both him and for his teacher (and to the Lord himself). When we are ready for doing so, that is to say working for others, obeying the Lord. The reward is predefined and readily prepared by Him!

The most eminent scientist ever lived is generally agreed to be Albert Einstein who strongly believed that every happening in the universe can be well defined on the basis of the scientific laws and there is nothing accidental in universe (?) stated "God does not play dice." But present day celebrity scientist - Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist – corrected it as "God not only plays dice but throws it where it doesn't occur naturally!"

Whoever on earth can predict that there will be a fish ready to swallow the hook I am going to cast and that itself with a coin safely stored in its mouth? How that fish could swallow the hook without fist emptying its mouth? That is god’s providence to the people who are ready to obey Him and ready to help others.

So remember always:

  • We are the keepers of our brethren and are responsible for them;
  • Never be a stumbling block to others
  • We must pray for them and work for them
  • Obey the lord and He will provide us with totally unexpected rewards.
  • Always obey the laws.

May the intercession of Mother Mary and all the saints be with us and let us pray, do the same to all and the providence of Lord God be with us always. Amen.