Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 413. Ezekiel 1:2-5.24-28. Psalm 148:1-2.11-12.12-14.
Ezekiel experiences the presence of God in a cosmic vision that will be
matched only by the Book of Revelation. The last book will take up many of
the descriptions of Ezekiel and use them in an eschatological way for the
Church militant. However, both are books of prayer and worship of God and
are prophetic not in the sense of actual predictions but in visions of the
prophet Ezekiel and the seer John of Patmos. The two testaments reflect
one another and the unity of both the Old Testament and the New Testament
are affirmed right within the Scriptures themselves.
The vision and call of Ezekiel is cosmic with such things as storm winds,
color, winged creatures, heaven, rainbow, and the appearance of someone who
is recognized as the God of Israel. The priest Ezekiel has his call amidst
all of this cosmic display. Most people will only hear the small still
voice of the Lord as did Elijah. Both types of experience of God are part
of the journey for humankind. The task we have is to see where and when God
is speaking to us and calling us. We are all chosen. We are all called.
The Psalm can reflect the splendor of God’s appearances as we sing and
praise the Lord: “Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.” Psalm 148
is one of the great praise psalms that ends the book of psalms. They are
very easy to pray because of their focus on praising God and not looking at
ourselves begging the Lord for favors and graces. Glory and praise are
directly focused on God.
Once again, Jesus predicts his suffering, death, and resurrection. We know
that each evangelist has made mention of this three-fold prediction. John
symbolizes it in the word “hour”, for example, “his hour (that of his
passion, death, and resurrection, had not yet come.” Then the scene takes
up a dialogue between Peter and Jesus about whether they are to pay the
temple tax or not. Jesus explains that the children of Israel are really
free of such a tax, but in order to conform to the oppressors power Peter
is told to go fishing. Since he is quite good at this he comes back with
the coin found in a fish’s mouth which pays for both Jesus and himself.
They avoid any scandal which could be given because of this tax expected of
all male Jews who were twenty or over. The surprise catch with enough to
pay shows the power of Jesus even over the ordinary things of nature like
fish which are caught. Biblicists tell us the fish was talapia! If the
time of Matthew is inferred as the occasion for this story then the words
of Fr. Viviano are helpful: “Here Matthew shows his ecumenical diplomacy
and pastoral good sense. Scandal will be a major theme in chapter 18, to
which this unit is a prelude. This is not a miracle story because the
miracle is not described. This puzzling episode is found only in Matthew.
Most authors assume that the tax in question was the Temple tax, but in
fact four different taxes have been proposed as the subject of the
narrative.” We know well that taxes are a reality and are not really a
fisherman’s tale. Alleluia. Amen.