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He Watches Over All and Each One
(Optional Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr)
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?” “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?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you invite me to spend this time of prayer, heart to heart with you. Draw me close to you and let me enter your heart, know you better, and be strengthened to live my Christian life alongside you.
- Jesus Watches Over All: Christ knew what his impending arrest and crucifixion would mean for his apostles. His heart, from which nothing is hidden, was not indifferent to the shock, extreme trial of faith, and disorienting confusion it would bring them. So little by little, he began to prepare them for it. This passage gives us an insight into the heart of Christ who deeply cared for his apostles, the first of his close friends that he invited to follow him, and in whose footsteps we today strive to follow him. We can linger here in prayer and ask for the grace to enter Christ’s heart and experience that compassion and patience of the Lord. The apostles didn’t understand all that he was trying to say, but Jesus’s patience did not tire. Step by step, he carried them along, even as he does to us in our own lives. We needn’t lose heart when we can’t seem to grasp it all. He never gets so far ahead of us that we cannot follow him anymore. What he asks is that we keep walking.
- Jesus Watches Over Each One: Jesus was watching out for all of his apostles, and for each apostle. He wants us to know that nothing is hidden from him, that he knows even our deepest heartaches. Perhaps Peter returned from that encounter with the tax collectors a bit unsure of how to act, where to find the money to pay the tax, or how to bring the conversation up with his Master. But Christ knew his heart and resolved everything even before Peter could express his concerns. Sometimes God acts in our lives in a similar way, making himself present even before we have time to ask him where he is. Other times, he waits and seems hidden (as he no doubt did for his apostles the three days he was buried in the tomb). But perhaps the Holy Spirit inspired this episode to be recorded in the Gospels so that it might speak his truth and grace into our own experiences today and remind us of his tender, all-knowing concern for us. Let’s linger here, asking the Holy Spirit to let this truth take root in our hearts in the places we need it most.
- Jesus Models Life for a Christian in the World: Not even Jesus exempted himself from the responsibilities and commitments of life in the world. Consider that the Son of God, coeternal with the Father who existed before the world began and who brought it all into being, lowered himself to pay the temple tax. The very one who could have said he was simply above all that, who was outside those human laws and systems, humbly paid the tax. If we ever doubt that he truly wished to make himself one like us in all things but sin, this passage reminds us of the truth and shows us in detail that he also takes care of his own. Surely, Simon Peter never forgot this gesture of the Lord. And how might he have imitated it later on, in his own life?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you reveal yourself as God All-Powerful and also humble, attentive, caring, and good. None of your children’s needs are too great or too small for you. Reveal to me a little more of your presence in my life—the way you know, care about, and help me through the big things and the little ones. And help me to imitate you in showing the same concern, attentiveness, and patience toward others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to spend my day remembering that you already know and care about all the little and great concerns in my life.
For Further Reflection: Read about today’s saint, Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.