It’s the very last day for Americans to file online for the year 2017 (the IRS extended their deadline to today), so be sure to pay your taxes!
And, in honor of the day, I would like to feature this picture of St. Peter… paying taxes!
The gospel that accompanies this scene is such:
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25“Yes,” he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” 26 When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. 27But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”
So, in the middle of this picture, Jesus is directing St. Peter to go get the tax money from the fish in the sea. Then, to the left, St. Peter is obediently following Jesus’ instructions, even if the instructions do seem a bit outlandish. (Getting enough money from a fish? Really?) Finally, to the right, Peter is paying the temple tax to the people who asked.
This particular scene — indeed, many of the frescos in this particular chapel — are meant to show things in Peter’s perspective. Which is an important perspective to have! I don’t know about you, but sometimes following Jesus can be a little daunting. After all, to follow Jesus is to pick up your cross and follow Him.
But Peter? Peter is a flawed man who can be impulsive and proud and silly and tends to speak too quickly at times, before he really understands what he’s getting into. Basically: he is very relatable! And yet, even with all of his many flaws, he was still called to be the first pope — that is, the first official leader of the Church! And now? He is a saint.
So, while I sometimes can hesitate to follow in Christ’s footsteps, I definitely can follow St. Peter’s bumbling footsteps… who then followed Christ. And, so even when things get hard, I know that I can follow in the footsteps of the saints, and by doing so, ultimately follow Christ.