Today’s Gospel has a very “love your enemies” feel to it. The tax collectors were always cheating others, imposing unjust taxes for the Romans and then usually taking a cut for themselves on top of it. After Peter is questioned about Jesus paying the tax, Jesus meets him without knowledge of the conversation and brings up the question of tax exemptions. Jesus then invites Peter to go fishing and to find a coin worth twice the tax in the mouth of the fish.
Some scholars note that the collectors ask Peter about Jesus’ payment, but not about his own. Jesus tells Peter that he will pay for both of them. Perhaps Peter is not paying his fair share either? And Peter will soon deny Jesus as well. And yet, with all of this, Jesus will pay the price for Peter’s sins with his own life willingly. He will even pay the price for the unjust tax collectors who he refuses to offend.
Jesus does the same for us, despite our sins and the ways that we might shortchange others of our love, time, or attention. Today can we be as generous as Jesus, giving twice as much to those who might shortchange us?
—Mike Hayes is the Director of Campus Ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.