Monday of the third week of ordinary time.


Here comes yet another set of confrontations between Jesus and Gods chosen people.This time it is with the temple Scribes. Being Scribes who as their name suggests, transcribed the laws and dealings of the Jerusalem temple, were well versed in the letter of Jewish law.  I will add that the Scribes are a component of Judaism that is distinct from those Pharisees. While the Pharisees are from the exiled northern kingdom, the Scribes are from the temple. Finally as much as Jesus and the Scribes argue, the Pharisees and Scribes would have been equally argumentative towards each other. Judaism is and was a very dynamic and varied religion. The arguments are not Christian versus Jews, but are arguments amongst those varied Jewish communities. That law is what Jesus many times challenged, and often with amazing results. He healed many people. Those Scribes witnessed much of the healing of Jesus and at the same time noticed his apparent violation of the legal and cultural norms of faithful of that temple.Their way of justifying it is by throwing out an irrational argument that the good works of Jesus are the work of the devil. With that irrational statement is proof of the degree of difficulty those scribes, and many others, had in interpreting the work and gospel of Jesus Christ They could witness the good of his works, but could not come to terms with the means of His actions as they did not conform to the cultural norms of society. How different is that from today where people are confronted with something new where on one hand a benefit can be seen, but on the other it goes against tradition? Contemporary society is filled with irrational arguments. They are the irrational arguments of racial and ethnic superiority. They are arguments that fuel class warfare.They are irrational arguments of suppression, and arguments that keep powerful regimes in control. Irrational arguments can also be on a very personal level. They are delusions that try to justify a persons bad behavior and bad decisions. They are often the disordered arguments of the drug addicts and alcoholics. They are arguments of people who do not confess their sins. Then of course there are disordered arguments of government, abortion and the rewriting of marriage laws immediately come to mind.

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

I can not be certain why those Scribes described Jesus good works by the argument that they were the work of the devil, but I think I can understand my own reasons for using the same type of argument. It can be out of fear, or to pass blame onto another, or simply to deny my own fragility. They can be the result of anger and disappointment too, anger that someone finished before me and the resultant disappointment of failure. It can be the refusal to believe someone was right and I was wrong. They are the last ditch effort to win an argument at all costs. The fact that they are used hints at how close someone is to defeating an opponent. That a group as educated and knowledgeable as the Scribes would use such an argument demonstrates how powerful Jesus works were. His message struck a chord with them and challenged their world.When Jesus is accused of wrong by those Scribes, He points out the error in their logic. I wonder how many of them listened, and I wonder how many were willing to accept change? I wonder how many addicts listen to their denial and take that first step towards healing. I wonder how many people are willing to admit and let go of their own faults and deceptions so that they might move on to something better. Logic certainly suggests that it is the better route, but deception can be a devil.

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