August 30, 2006

Matthew 23:27-32

Back when I was a kid we'd occasionally play the game of trying to decide which family members, if they'd lived at the time of Jesus, would've clung to the Jewish traditions rather than accepting the Messiah who acted in unexpected ways.

The thinking is that the more conservative members would've clung to the Jewish traditions and scoffed at Christ as another miracle-worker in a long line of miracle workers.

But I think this has a few problems. One is that it denies the power of grace. It says that we are first creatures of our predilections and innate tendencies rather than children of God capable of being "surprised by truth". It seems unduly mechanistic, as if we're all robots.

Second, to insist that we would've followed Christ at that time is to show ourselves, ironically, as Pharisees. In today's Gospel reading Jesus says to the scribes & Pharisees:
And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.' Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets.
In claiming they were different from their fathers, the Pharisees were inadvertently saying that they were there fathers.

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