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Ez 1:2-5, 24-28c
In today’s first reading the prophet Ezechiel beholds a vision of the “likeness” of the glory of the Lord. He sees, not the glory itself, but a mere hint of its infinite splendor. This is the glory that Jesus in John’s Gospel says that he had with the Father “before the world began (Jn17:6).” By contrast, in today’s excerpt from Matthew, He presents himself as the Son of Man destined to be delivered into the hands of his enemies and condemned to death. His concluding words provide the link between the two extremes: He will be raised up on the third day. We are invited to contemplate the entire paschal mystery.
The story that follows Jesus’ prediction strikes us as strange, rather comical, and unrelated to what precedes it. Nevertheless, in its own way restates and develops the same theme. As the Son of the Father, Jesus is exempt from the tax, yet He freely consents to pay it. In doing so He accepts the consequences of the Incarnation. In the words of the letter to the Philippians, He has emptied himself to take “the form of a slave,” accepting the circumstances of our human condition—even to death on the cross (Phil2:6-8).
Moreover, Jesus in the fish story explicitly associates himself with Peter. The same coin will pay the tax for both of them. The implication is that Peter too is a son. As Jesus humbles himself to share our lot, he raises us up to share his glory.
- Sister Mary O’Brien, C.P.