In today’s gospel we are witness to Jesus’ encounter with the authorities and their question about the payment of taxes. Certainly the question of taxes is as much about authority as any topic. And there is perhaps no thorny or inflammatory topic of conversation than taxes. One may easily assume it is with malice that Jesus is asked about the census tax payable to Rome. The empire exacted three types of taxes: a ground tax, which required that ten per cent of all grain and twenty per cent of all oil and wine production be given to Rome; an income tax, equivalent to one per cent of a person’s income; and a poll/census tax, which amounted to a denarius or a full day’s wage. To add insult to injury, the tax could be paid only in Roman coin, most of which contained an image and inscription considered blasphemous by many Jews: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus Pontifex Maximus (“Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest”). Continue reading
Someone once describe a blog as the digital platform that ensures no thought ever goes unpublished. I think there is a large measure of truth in that definition. The previous post, “The long way round” turned out to not only be about the “long way round” to my time in Kenya, but a more general comment about his blog. The previous post was the long way round from the start to post number 3,000! Yikes, who knew I had so many thoughts needing to be published !!
It is not a small thing to decide to leave life as you know it and take up the mantle of missionary. Many of the folks that join overseas mission services are taking a “gap” year – or in our mission society, three years. Lots of folks are recent college graduates or folks at the start of retirement. I was mid-career. I had worked for a company, started a company, sold a company, and as we reached the end of our agreement to remain, friends and I were considering starting another company. Then my pastor asked if this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I often jokingly tell people not to take dating advice from a priest. Perhaps I should have been cautious about taking career advice from a priest. About the same time, as I noted in a previous post I wrote: “Then my friend Susan asked “Hey, do you know what Fr. Joe is doing these days?” As it happens, he was Executive Director of Franciscan Mission Service (FMS).” It was the start of a very long list to things that had to be done.