When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, tax collectors came to see Peter.

“Does your teacher pay the two-drachma temple tax?” they asked.

“Yes,” said Peter, “of course he does.”

Then, when he went into the house, Jesus said to him, “What do you think? Do kings tax their own children or just other people?”

“Other people,” said Peter.

“Then their own children are exempt,” said Jesus. “But so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and cast in your fishing line. You’ll find a four-drachma coin in the mouth of the first fish you catch. Take it and hand it in as payment for your tax and mine.”

A little later, the disciples came to Jesus.

“Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” they asked.

In front of them all, Jesus called a little child to come to him

“Listen to this carefully,” he said, “unless you change your attitudes and become like little children, you’ll never even enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s the person who’s most like this little child who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“So anyone who welcomes a little child like this is actually welcoming me.

“I’ll tell you another thing: if anyone leads one of these innocent children astray, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung round his neck and be drowned in the  sea.

“Great grief awaits the world because of the evil things which happen! They may be inevitable, but greater grief awaits the people through whom that evil comes! So, if your hand or foot should lead you into evil, metaphorically cut it off and throw it away. It’s better for you to enter life with only one hand or foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both your hands and feet. And if your eye should lead you into evil, metaphorically tug it out and throw it away. It’s better for you to enter life with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.

“Make sure that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. I can assure you that their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven.

“Now, tell me what you think. If a man had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hillside and go looking for the one that’s lost? And when he finds it, he’s a lot happier over the one sheep he’s found than the ninety-nine sheep that never wandered off! In just the same way, your Father in heaven doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.

“And if your brother offends you, go to him and point out his offence in private. If he listens to you, then you’ve regained your brother. But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two other people with you and go to him again, so that everything that’s said can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Then, if he still refuses to listen, present the problem to the church. And if he won’t listen to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“I can assure you that whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

“I can also tell you this – if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”


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