Memory of the Poor

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Memorial of St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253), disciple of St. Francis on the way of poverty and evangelic simplicity

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 17, 21-26

When they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of man is going to be delivered into the power of men;

they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised up again.' And a great sadness came over them.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, 'Does your master not pay the half-shekel?'

'Yes,' he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, 'Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?'

And when he replied, 'From foreigners,' Jesus said, 'Well then, the sons are exempt.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist notes that Jesus is still in Galilee with his disciples. Perhaps he is about to begin his journey towards Jerusalem. For the second time (the first was in chapter 16:21), Jesus tells his disciples what awaits him in Jerusalem: he will be handed over to the leaders of the people and put to death, but then he will be raised. And once again the disciples’ dismay can clearly be seen. They really have difficulty believing in the idea of a suffering Messiah, even though the prophecy also speaks of resurrection. It is a struggle with which we are all quite familiar. How often is our hearing selective? We only listen to what we want to hear, without letting ourselves be taken in by the Word that is announced to us. But the Lord continues to walk with us now, just as he did with the disciples back then. For the disciples, Jesus’ weakness is the real scandal. While Jesus and the disciples are going back to Capernaum, several tax collectors approach Peter and ask him whether Jesus intends to pay the tax for the temple. This is not a tribute to Caesar; it is the contribution every Israelite owed to keep the temple in operation. Even though he is “greater than the temple,” (12:6) Jesus does not withdraw from this duty. He orders Peter to catch a fish and take the silver coin needed for the temple tax from its mouth. Jesus did not want to cause a scandal, and, as on other occasions, he did not claim rights and privileges that would be his due. He came to edify people, not scandalize them. This is why he does not do things that otherwise would be permitted for him. Along these same lines the apostle Paul responds to the Corinthians’ claim that “all things are lawful,” by saying, “but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of others” (1 Cor 10:23-24). Jesus’ first concern is to gather and guard those whom the Father has entrusted to him. This is why Jesus is scrupulous about avoiding useless scandals. This wisdom requires a great deal of interior discipline, above all on the part of those who have pastoral responsibilities. We must avoid the impulse to act impulsively without reflecting. The Lord continues to show us that true wisdom is constructing the spiritual temple that is the Christian community.