In today’s Gospel Reading from Matthew 17:24-18:4, we find the Apostle Peter having his conscience attacked by those who collected the “temple tax” (a tax that the Jews paid for the upkeep of the temple). Slyly, the collectors of the tax don’t approach Christ. That would be too daring! Both St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome point out that these tax collectors for the temple didn’t dare approach Christ.
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.
Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
Today, thanks to the internet, everybody can have a public voice. The internet also makes it easy for anyone not to approach the person they really want to address but rather try to scandalize any followers of that person.
This “temple tax” is closely reality to Christ’s anger when he encountered the money changers of the temple. Only certain coins were allowed to be offered in the temple and so the temple’s yard was filled with money changers to provide for the faithful the “correct coins”. However, this money changing gave the money changers an opportunity to swindle the faithful who didn’t know better.
So it is in our times. Some try to scandalize a flock by making cunning questions but in their hearts is the desire to offer what they display as the “correct coins” from the “correct synod” (regardless of whether or not their beliefs are in accordance with their self-proclaimed title of correct!) in order to swindle those they gather in their temples.