Questions & Answers

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel passage is a good one.  Jesus deftly outmaneuvers the wily Sadducees, juking at the last second to deliver a slam dunk answer.  Jesus’ answer was so good that “they no longer dared to ask him anything”… wait, what?

Is that the point?  To scare people into silence.  Was Jesus in the business of shutting down silly questions so people would just leave him alone and give him a moment of peace?  I don’t think so.  I think there is another layer to this story that we can peel back that issues a challenge for us regarding questions & answers.

I never saw this additional layer until a read a book on the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament (the books recognized as scripture by Catholics but not Protestants.)  The book offers an interesting thought regarding this scene that I wish to paraphrase.  It goes something like this.

This passage in Luke can make the Sadducees look a little silly.  They’ve been planning and conniving the ultimate ‘Jesus stumper,’ so they cook up some ridiculous story of 7 male relatives marrying the same woman and all dying without having kids.  This hardly seems like the best option.  Isn’t there a chance that Jesus would just look at them, disregard the whole scenario as ridiculous and say, “Bring me something more realistic next time.”

At this point the author argues that we should give the Sadducees a little more credit.  He proposes that they didn’t make up this scenario but are lifting it straight from the pages of Tobit; a book recognized as scripture by some Jews but not the Sadducees.  Luke only tells us they were trying to trap Jesus regarding the resurrection from the dead, but they were trying to corner him by ensuring that he couldn’t just dismiss the scenario.  They thought they had Jesus in a catch – 22.  If Jesus said the whole scenario was ridiculous they would ask him if He was rejecting Tobit, but if He didn’t dismiss the scenario they thought he would get stuck talking in circles about who would be married to whom, leaving them ample holes to exploit.  Instead he answered so well that, “they no longer dared to ask him anything.”

Why?

Because they weren’t asking to learn, grow, or be challenged but to fight, win, and be right.  They were not asking questions from a position of humility but pride.  Their questions weren’t truly questions at all.  They did not wish to dialogue with Jesus but have him follow their diatribe’s script.

We still struggle with that temptation.  We don’t dialogue well.  We want to tell people why the things that are important to us should be the only things that matter to them.  I want to prove my point not open my conclusion to review.  We have seen this in its full blown reality in the recent election and its aftermath.  There have been so many diatribes, but so few dialogues.

Does this mean that we become conversational doormats?  No.  Jesus in today’s gospel did not shy away from offering the Sadducees a great defense.  We need to have the wisdom to answer questions honestly and without fear of saying what we believe.  But how does Jesus do that?  By quoting the Torah, the portion of the Bible that the Sadducees viewed as Scripture.  He spoke their language.

Jesus invited the Sadducees to dialogue about Eternal Life (and what is Scripture), but they were so diatribe driven that they shut the dialogue down.

As disciples, we strive to talk like Jesus.  We are not afraid to express what we believe, but we try and do it in a language others will understand, for our goal is always an invitation for dialogue.  A dialogue in which we hope the Word of God speaks far louder than any of our own words.

– Spencer Hargadon

Speaking My Language

Reflection based on the Gospel from November 21, 2015

The Sadducees play an important role in today’s passage from Luke.  Scholars tell us that Sadducees rejected all books of the Bible except for the Torah, or the first five.  Nothing outside of these five books was authoritative or doctrinally binding to them.  Thus, believing they couldn’t find the promise of eternal life and resurrection explicitly in the Torah, they rejected those beliefs. Rejecting eternal life is why they were ‘Sad-you-see’ (I can’t take credit for that pun).  Luke also tells us about their denial of the Resurrection, which brings us to their confrontation with Jesus.  After their attempt to trap Jesus by making the Resurrection sound absurd, He responds in a very important way.  He provides evidence from the Torah. Continue reading “Speaking My Language”

Blood Money

Reflection on the Gospel from November 7, 2015

The Lord is hard at work trying to teach me how to ask for help more frequently.  I sat here reading the Gospel passage again and again trying to figure out what Jesus was saying.  He talked about dishonest wealth and I frankly had no idea what He was talking about, but the confounding part of Scripture seems to be the most appropriate part upon which to reflect.  So I read it a few more times and then wham, it hit me!  Out from the recesses of my memory I was reminded that I own Scripture commentaries, so I turned to A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture for help. Continue reading “Blood Money”

The Danger of Pharisees

Reflection on the readings for October 31, 2015.

Today’s opening words in the Gospel resonate with a cultural, societal, and human truth.  Here is the text, “Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.”  Those words, “the people there were observing him carefully,” makes me think that they wanted to know how Jesus was going to handle this Pharisee.  Was he going to put him in his place? Or pat him on the back?  Continue reading “The Danger of Pharisees”

Blasphemes Against the Spirit

Reflection on the Readings for October 17, 2015

As it is the feast of Ignatius of Antioch, one of my son’s namesakes, I wanted to spend the entire reflection talking about him.  But then I read the Gospel.  So I’ll have to leave my focus on St. Ignatius of Antioch at a recommendation to check him out and give you these words from our 2nd Century brother, “It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.”  Right, on to the Gospel. Continue reading “Blasphemes Against the Spirit”

The Sower Knows

Daily Readings: 1 TM 6:13-16PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5, & LK 8:4-15

The Parable of the Sower has always intrigued me.  As such, when I saw that it was the Gospel reading for today I immediately got excited and I simultaneously got nervous, because the passages that intrigue me tend to also confuse me.  So how am I to offer a reflection on a passage that I struggle to take to a deeper level?  I think the best way is to just let Jesus do the work. Continue reading “The Sower Knows”

Remember Who You Are

Jesus is bold.  Do you think about that much?  You could rightly call Him lowly, meek, or humble, but you can’t call Him a coward.  He listened to the command of scripture to “Be not afraid,” because He knew who He was.  If you want to see this in practice, just look to our Gospel reading today (Luke 6:1-5). Continue reading “Remember Who You Are”