Memorial of Saint Clare of Assisi, virgin
(Ezekiel 1:2-5a.24.24-28c; Matthew 17:22-27)
Next to St. Francis himself, St. Clare was responsible for the Franciscan revolution of the thirteenth century. Their innovations, along with those of St. Dominic, transformed religious life. They rejected the privilege to which monks and nuns at the time had long been accustomed. In its place they begged for the food they ate to conform themselves radically with the gospel. Interestingly, their rules of religious life were not spurned by contemporaries but attracted phenomenal numbers of adherents. In today’s gospel Jesus shows himself to be an even more daring innovator.
People think of God with such a powerful persona that suffering for Him would be contradictory. Yet Jesus, accepting the title of Christ or Son of God, openly announces his imminent passion and death. The passage also has Jesus humbly paying his taxes. He refuses any privilege of office as he has come exclusively to serve.
In a world that still pays great homage to power, we must remember who our Savior is. He did not crush foes but allowed himself to be executed as an innocent person. We follow him by rendering humble service to others and by refusing to be impressed by displays of force.