From last week:
Soon they were out on the waves, the sea breeze filling their lungs and the sun on their bare backs. At the proper time, they began to haul in their net. All of a sudden, Hosea’s end began to slip! “Careful, son, we’re losing it!”, shouted Eli. As both father and son lunged for the thick edge of the net, Hosea’s stater slipped out of the tunic rolled around his waist. It flew through the air. Hosea saw it land in the middle of the catch of fish which was quickly slipping out of the net. It disappeared. Eli grabbed the sagging end of the net and the three pulled in what was left of their catch. No one said a word for the rest of the day.
It was Hosea’s grandpa who broke the silence on the way home from the shore. “Hosea, I heard the Teacher once myself, you know.”
The sad boy looked in amazement at his strong and gentle grandfather.
“That’s right. And do you know what He said?” Hosea hoped that somehow the words of the Man from Nazareth would comfort him. His grandpa continued. “He said, `Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be, also.’ Do you know what the Teacher meant, Hosea?”
The boy struggled to hold back his tears. “I…I think so, grandpa”, he sobbed. “I…I guess He meant that my stater is not really a treasure… is that right? Does the Teacher mean that I should not be too sad about losing it?”
“That’s what He meant”, said the older Hosea. “Now why don’t you and I talk to God about this?” The two bowed their heads to pray. After his grandpa prayed, Hosea prayed. “Lord, help me to know the true treasures like the Teacher said”. He recalled how his grandpa had suggested that he leave his coin at home. “And please help me to listen to my grandpa’s good advice, Lord!” The older Hosea hugged his namesake as they went inside for the night.
Several days later, Eli, Hosea and his grandpa were mending nets by the shore of Galilee with some other fishermen. There was a small commotion as a man approached. “That’s Simon Peter!”, said Eli. “He’s one of the men who travels with Jesus of Nazareth!” Hosea was instantly interested. He wandered over to where Simon was speaking to some of the men.
“…So those who collect the two-drachma tax came to me and said, `Does your Rabbi not pay the two-drachma tax?’ So I told them He does. And when I went into the house, Jesus asked me, `What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’ When I answered,`From strangers’, He said, `Consequently the sons are exempt. But, lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.’ So…here I am!”, continued Simon. “May I use someone’s line and hook?”
According to Jesus’ words, the large fish which Simon soon caught had a stater in its mouth. The future apostle went his thoughtful way and the astonished fishermen eventually went back to their nets, but only a certain new fisherman named Hosea knew the secret.
He could not wait until he had a chance to meet Jesus of Nazareth. He would tell Him all about it.
This short story is based on that portion of the sacred history recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17