Monday – 19th Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Matthew 17:22-27
Fishing on Sea of Galilee
In case you missed it, this past Thursday over 75,000 little yellow rubber duckies were dumped into the Chicago River. As part of an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Illinois, each duckie was individually ‘adopted’ and, in the process, over $450,000 was raised to support the organization’s efforts. The first few duckies to cross the finish line earned prizes like a new car, vacations and cruises. There is a certain humor to the event when you see this huge truck dumping them into the river. And maybe that’s the point.
In the midst of all the violence and suffering in the city (and the world), it gives us the chance to step aside from all the worry and stress and just smile at the absurdity of it all. Maybe it’s a reminder that, from time to time, we all need a moment of humor and comedy to lighten the mood!
And maybe that is what’s going on in today’s Gospel. You have 2 seemingly unconnected stories. Jesus has just told His disciples that they are going to Jerusalem and the Jews will arrest Him and put Him to death. No symbolic words here, it is blunt and direct – I am going to die! And the disciples “were overwhelmed with grief.” And then Jesus sends Peter to go and catch a fish and he will find a coin in its mouth to pay the Temple tax. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.
And yet maybe it’s as simple as a loving Jesus trying to ease the pain of His disciples! Maybe we are seeing Jesus at one of His most human, most loving and compassionate moments. He sees His disciples in tears and grieving over His impending death and He tries to lighten their mood with a bit of distraction.
Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? What any friend would do? And isn’t that a reminder to us all that, even in the midst of sadness and grief, Jesus is right there with us, always caring, always drying our tears, always ready and willing to do whatever it takes to remind us that we are not alone and that, even in the midst of sadness, there is still joy and love.