First reading Ezekiel 1:2-5,24-28

Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of the Lord

On the fifth of the month – it was the fifth year of exile for King Jehoiachin – the word of the Lord was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldaeans, on the bank of the river Chebar.
  There the hand of the Lord came on me. I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire from which flashes of lightning darted, and in the centre a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire. In the centre I saw what seemed four animals. They looked like this. They were of human form. I heard the noise of their wings as they moved; it sounded like rushing water, like the voice of Shaddai, a noise like a storm, like the noise of a camp; when they halted, they folded their wings, and there was a noise.
  Above the vault over their heads was something that looked like a sapphire; it was shaped like a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man. I saw him shine like bronze, and close to and all around him from what seemed his loins upwards was what looked like fire; and from what seemed his loins downwards I saw what looked like fire, and a light all round like a bow in the clouds on rainy days; that is how the surrounding light appeared. It was something that looked like the glory of the Lord. I looked, and prostrated myself.
 
 

Responsorial Psalm 148:1-2,11-14

Your glory fills all heaven and earth.
or
Alleluia!
 
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
  praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all his angels,
  praise him, all his host.
 
All earth’s kings and peoples,
  earth’s princes and rulers,
young men and maidens,
  old men together with children.
 
Let them praise the name of the Lord
  for he alone is exalted.
The splendour of his name
  reaches beyond heaven and earth.
 
He exalts the strength of his people.
  He is the praise of all his saints,
of the sons of Israel,
  of the people to whom he comes close.
 
 

Gospel Matthew 17:22-27

‘They will put the Son of Man to death’

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life 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?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’
 
 
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Freedom rooted in love

Today’s gospel might be challenging to understand. However, let us ask
the Holy Spirit to guide us to grasp the message behind this passage
that Jesus wants to convey to us today. Some tax collectors asked Peter
if Jesus would pay the required temple tax. In Jesus’ opinion, He, being
the Son of God, was free not to do so. His disciples, who were part of
God’s family, were also not obliged to pay the tax. However, Jesus told
Peter to pay the temple tax and not to scandalise them. Thus, Jesus
chose to practice love rather than exercise His freedom.
 
The key question we should always ask is: “What is the most loving thing
to do in this situation?”. As Christians, our love for others should always
mould and form our freedom. Although we might be free to do something
or not to do something, sometimes it is necessary to renounce our
freedom for the sake of choosing to love others and work for their good.
 
Reflection question:
What struck me as I prayed with today’s gospel passage?
 
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year C” by Sr Sandra Seow FMVD.