The Unforgivable Sin: Mark 3:20-30


He came home. Again (the) crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus is again confronted; by the scribes this time. It’s not about doing good “works” on the sabbath, no not this time. It’s not about what  He is doing but, about who  He is!

First we see, that He has come back home, and that His relatives are ready to seize Him. Why? …for they said, “He is out of His mind.” Evidently, they had been listening to the scribes who came down from Jerusalem, for they were the ones saying Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul, and that by the prince of demons he drives out demons. All this, sets the stage for Jesus’ teaching on the unforgivable sin .

There are a few interpretations of these verses that merit deeper study. They explain on different levels this blasphemy, and it’s affects on us.

The most common interpretation of this text today, is that this unforgivable sin  is the total rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

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“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

We see from the text itself though, that this unforgivable sin  is connected with something a little bit different – for St. Mark adds; For they [scribes] had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Thus this verse can also be interpreted as attributing the power of God, to the power of Satan. This is the charge that Jesus responds to in the last part of the parable[s].

But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.

But, the main point of this text may be lost, if we simply glance at  it and not dig into  it. Division is opposed to unity. Even Satan’s house, in it’s evilness, could not remain without unity. For, if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. This brings us to an interpretation by St. Augustine, from Book IV, Sermon XXI, [LXXI.BEN] in paragraph 35.

“Not that this is a blasphemy which shall not be forgiven, forasmuch as even this shall be forgiven, if a right repentance follow it; but because, as I have said, there arose hence a cause for that sentence to be delivered by the Lord, since mention had been made of the unclean spirit whom the Lord shows to be divided against Himself, because of the Holy Spirit who is not only not divided against Himself, but who also makes those whom He gathers together undivided, by forgiving those sins which are divided against themselves, and by inhabiting those who are cleansed, that it may be with them, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul,” (Acts 4:32).”

An affront to the Triune God who is prefectly united, is the disunity of His people. St. Augustine goes on to explain in paragraph 36:

“But in this passage according to Matthew (12:32), the Lord far more plainly explained what He intended to be understood here; namely that he who speaks a word against the Holy Spirit, who with an impenitent heart resist the Unity of the Church, where in the Holy Spirit is given the remission of sins. For this Spirit they have not, as has been said already, who even though they bear and handle the sacraments of Christ, are seperated from His congregation.”

So indeed, a house divided against itself, as Jesus said, shall surely fall. Yet, there was only the Catholic Church in St. Augustine’s day. What about today? There are tens of thousands of denominations that indeed call themselves Christian, yet are seperated from the Catholic Church. What about them?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this perplexing question this way:

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”
 
 
 
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How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
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This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.
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“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”
Often misunderstood by Protestants and Catholics alike is this: The Church is the messenger of the Gospel of Christ. Whether you heard and responded to the Gospel in a Baptist church, a Lutheran church or the Catholic Church, this Gospel was delivered by Christ to the Apostles for the Church to proclaim. So all (true Christian) churches proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ; born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, died, and was burried, and on the third day, rose again conqurering death and sin.

So in this vein, let us realize our unity. That even within our differences, God can and will unite what man in his sin has strained, or even ruptured. For the Church is a Divine institution, as well as a human one and within whichever ecclesial communion we are placed, their should be unity. Again the Catechism of the Catholic Church understands this, and therefore states:

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“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

So this week, let us think about unity, and how we as believers, can demonstrate to one another, not to mention a lost world, the power of unity with the Holy Spirit. Let’s be instruments for our churches to work together for the betterment of society (as in the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy) as well as in our families. Fathers working in unity with their wives, and vice versa. Children with their parents and parents with their children, working together in love to live in the truth of Christ’s calling.

Can you think of other ways we could be showing the unity of Christ? I would love to hear them, and I’m sure others would, too. Now, let us go and serve our  Lord!

Amen.

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Another Great Idea by……


…….Jeff Vehige over at St. Peter Canisius Apostolate. Here are the details.

Thanks again, Jeff! This must be why you make the big bucks!    🙂

Twelve Are Chosen: Mark 3: 13-19


He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him andhe might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: (he appointed the twelve): Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Have you ever wondered about the twelve disciples (whom he also named apostles) ? Where they came from, what they did, before and after Jesus called them? Well then….let’s take a look.

Judas Iscariot: the man who betrayed Jesus, thus always mentioned last. The Aramaic word Iscariot  literally means – man of Kerioth. Kerioth was a town near Hebron (Josh. 15:25) in Judea. Judean’s despised the people of Galilee, and this attitude may have alienated Judas from the other disciples. He acted as treasurer for the group. He betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver and, after trying to return the money, went and hung himself (Matt. 27:5).

Simon the Canaanite (Canaanean): Referd to as Zelotes(or the Zealot) by Luke (6:15). Canaanite is the English transliteration of the Aramaic word kann’ah ; both words mean – zealous one, so some believe he may have belonged to the Jewish sect known as the Zealots. The tradition of the Coptic Church of Egypt states he preached in Egypt, Africa, Great Britain and Persia. He died a martyr’s death and along with Jude Thaddeus his Feast Day is celebrated on October. 28.

Jude Thaddeus: St. Jerome called this apostle Trionius– the man with three names. Judas (not Iscariot) and Lebbus are the other two (found in Jn. 14:22 and Matt. 10:3, respectively). He’s believed to be the brother of James the Lessand the author of the epistle Jude of the New Testament. Eusebius, the Church historian, says that Jesus sent this disciple to King Abgar of Mesopotamia to pray for his healing. He remained there and preached in that region. He died a martyr’s death and along with Simon the Canaanean his Feast Day is also October. 28.

James the Less, son of Alpheus: Believed to be the brother of Jude Thaddeus, and the author of the epistle of James of the New Testament. Tradition says he died a martyr by being sawed into pieces. His Feast Day is May 3.

Thomas: John’s Gospel gives us the most complete picture of this disciple. John says he was called Didymus  the Greek word for twin. With no background information on him we can only guess that he was a fisherman, for he was with six other disciples who returned to their boats after the Crucifixion (Jn. 21:2,3). He is often referred to as “Doubting” Thomas (Jn. 20:25) but was seen as bold earlier, as Jesus informs the twelve he is returning to Judea, Thomas proclaims, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (Jn. 11:16). St. Augustine commented on him, “He doubted that we may not doubt.” Tradition says he went to India and was martyred there. His named is carried on by the Marthoma rite. His Feast Day is July 3.

Levi Matthew: the former tax collector and author of the first Gospel. Because of his line of work, it’s very probable that he was well educated. Of all the Gospels, his was chosen to appear at the beginning of the canon and second – century literature quotes from it more than any other, stressing it’s influence and significance. Tradition isn’t exactly clear what happened to Matthew after Pentecost, though it’s believed he was martyred in Ethiopia. His Feast Day is celebrated on September 21.

Bartholomew Nathanael: Not alot is known of this apostle either. In Aramaic Bartholomew means – son of Thalmai. So, he may be named after King Thalmai of Geshur (II Sam. 3:3). Some scholars believe he may be connected with the Ptolemies, based on St. Jerome’s statement that he was the only apostle of noble birth. St. Bede the Venerable reports that this apostle was beheaded by King Astriagis in India. The Armenian Rite claims him as their founder and his Feast Day is celebrated on August 24.

Phillip: John’s gospel gives us the only details of this apostle’s life. He was one of the few called individually and he introduced Bartholomew to Jesus (Jn. 1:45-51). He didn’t know how they would feed 5000 people (Jn. 6:7). He and Andrew introduced a group of Greek men to Jesus (Jn. 12:20-22). And at the Last Supper he said to Jesus, “Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (Jn. 14:8). There are several traditions surrounding Phillip’s later ministry, yet Bishop Polycrates of Antioch wrote in 194 A.D., “Phillip, one of the twelve apostles, sleeps at Hierapolis.” His Feast Day is celebrated with James the Less, son of Alpheus on May 3.

Andrew: this apostle was Simon’s (Peter) brother. In fact, it was Andrew who told Simon, “We have found the Messiah…” (Jn. 1:41). They were the sons of Jonah (or John) and worked in his fishing business, before following the Lord. Tradition says that Andrew was crucified on an X – shaped cross (known now as St. Andrew’s cross. His Feast Day is celebrated on November 30.

John: one of the sons of Zebedee, brother of James the Greater. He was part of Jesus’ inner-circle. He wrote several New Testament books; the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and, 3rd John and, Revelation. Known as “the beloved disciple”  John was the only apostle not to forsake Jesus at the cross. Jesus charges him with taking care of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, at His death. He did and they moved to Ephesus where he was bishop, and where the Virgin Mary was Assumed. Tertullian reports that John was taken to Rome and “plunged into boiling oil, unhurt, and then exiled on an island.” John was the only apostle to not suffer a martyr’s death. His Feast Day is celebrated on December 27; he is also my patron saint!

James the Greater: the older son of Zebedee, John’s brother, and also a part of Jesus’ inner-circle. Jesus called these brothers, Boanerges  which means “sons of thunder,” perhaps a description of their personalities. As part of the inner-circle, he witnessed the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1) and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37). He preached in Jerusalem and Judea and was the first apostle to be martyred, being beheaded by Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D.. His Feast Day is July 25.

Simon: a fisherman from Galilee, led to Jesus by his brother Andrew (Jn. 1:40,41). He heads the list of apostles in each Gospel, which suggests he was the most significant of the twelve, being their leader, particularly, after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. Jesus changed his name from Simon which means – hearer  to Peter which means – rock, and told Peter that he would be the “rock” He would build His church upon (Matt. 16:18). He is honored as the founder of the Holy See in Rome, the first pope of Christ’s Church. He was martyred around 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero, asking to be crucified upside-down, for he was “not worthy to die as his Lord had died”. His Feast Day is celebrated on June 29, which is the day shared with St. Paul the Apostle.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

 

The Apostles’ mission
 
 

 

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Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired; . . . . And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.” From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.”
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Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As “the Son can do nothing of his own accord,” but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him, from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ’s apostles knew that they were called by God as “ministers of a new covenant,” “servants of God,” “ambassadors for Christ,” “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
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In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord’s Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them “will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors.”

 

Hopefully, now, we have a better idea who these guys were.

So this week, let us realize that not all of us can be in that “inner-circle.”  Not all are called to be a Peter, James or John. Jesus called all twelve to be faithful and to serve Him, whether heaped with accolades or not. May we be faithful in the same way these seemingly “lesser” apostles were, in the obscurity of our everyday lives, may we say “yes” to Jesus’ call to Follow Me.

Amen.

“You Are The Son Of God”: Mark 3: 7-12


Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people (followed) from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.  And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

After His last confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. The only problem was a large number of people (followed). It’s really hard to withdraw when people are following you! And if that wasn’t enough, others heard what he was doing and even more were showing up – from all over. Seven different towns and/or areas are named in this text. Again I will say, it’s hard to withdraw when people are following you.

Two other withdrawal moments come to mind;

  1. His forty days in the wilderness (1:12)
  2. His quiet time in the morning      (1:35)

We see, that during these times, great prayer and preparation to accomplish the will of the Father was the purpose of these withdrawals. Given the context of this scripture, and the one we studied last week, He may have been withdrawing, this time, for a couple of different reasons;

  1. To escape the persecution of the Pharisees and the Herodians
  2. To preserve His secret

What secret? The proclamation of the unclean spirits;  whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” I find it fascinating that these purely evil spirits could more easily identify the Son of God than the people could. Have you ever wondered why that was?

First, we must realize that these unclean spirits were from the beginning. One third of heavens angels joined Lucifer in his rebellion against God. You can read about this incident in the Old Testament books, Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14 also Daniel 8:10 and in the New Testament in Revelation 12:4

Being present with the Holy Trinity from the beginning explains how they identify Him. Yet when we think of identifying someone, we think of seeing….recognizing by sight. Jesus was without a physical body before His Incarnation, so it was probably not His physical appearance they recognized, but His Holiness. Have you ever been in the presence of a truly godly person? How you could just sense that the Spirit was God was indeed, with them? Given that we [people] are inclined toward evil, how much more does purely evil spirits sense the presence of the Son of God?

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains;

II. The Fall of the Angels
 
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Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil.” The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”
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Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies.”
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It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”
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Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning,” who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
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 And also;

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          The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world.” The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.”

It also teaches;

  “But Deliver Us from Evil”

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The last petition to our Father is also included in Jesus’ prayer: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” It touches each of us personally, but it is always “we” who pray, in communion with the whole Church, for the deliverance of the whole human family. The Lord’s Prayer continually opens us to the range of God’s economy of salvation. Our interdependence in the drama of sin and death is turned into solidarity in the Body of Christ, the “communion of saints.”
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In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across” God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.
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“A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies,” Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world.” Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be “freed from the corruption of sin and death.” Now “we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”

The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. “If God is for us, who is against us?

 

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        The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries—of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature—to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”

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Victory over the “prince of this world” was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is “cast out.” “He pursued the woman” but had no hold on her: the new Eve, “full of grace” of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.” Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus,” since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.
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When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return. By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

 Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

As we reflect back on our Scripture text for this week, let’s see how we can apply what we’ve learned.

There are many times in our faith journey when we will need to withdraw. There will also be times when we will want to withdraw, but not allowed to by our circumstances. We need not feel over-whelmed, for Jesus is with us (He’s been there, done that). He will empower us to continue in the work He started, until He comes again in Glory!

Amen.

What Did You Expect?: Mark 3:1-6


Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

What was it about the Pharisees? Why did they have it in for Jesus? The answer may scare us!

It’s hard to understand though, just where they were at, without a little background of the sects of 1st century Judaism.

We are fairly familiar with two; the Pharisees(of course) and the Sadducees (mentioned in the New Testament, Matt. 16:6, Mk. 12:18). Another sect (mentioned in this passage) is the Herodians. There were also the Essenes, the Zealots(of which Simon the disciple came, Lu. 6:15) and the Samaritans (Jn. 4:9).

One of the things I find fascinating, is the “history” behind which these sects are formed. It’s not unlike Christianity today, in that what started out unified, is now splintered into “denominations” and like Judaism in the first centuries before Christ, came the rise of “remnant theology.”

Remnant Theology was developed during and coming out of the Exile. Mainline Jews declared that God would preserve a faithful remnant of His people, who would be the seed of the “new” Israel. For the first time in their history, they entertained the notion that not all Jews were “chosen”. During the Exile, synagogues had been built all over and rabbis (at least those well versed in Torah) expounded on their view of what it said. So in Exile, as these different sects formed, and rabbis with different views taught Torah, they came out with different “interpretations” of what the Hebrew Scriptures said. Of course, like today, more than one sect, considered itself to be the “faithful remnant of God”. This is the mind-set of the sects of Judaism prior to and at the time of Jesus.

The Pharisees descended from a group called the Hasideans. During the time of the Maccabees they are referred to as, mighty warriors of Israel, all who offered themselves willingly for the law(I Macc. 2:42). After the Maccabean revolt, during the time of the Hasmoneans (when John Hyrcanus named himself king and priest in 135 B.C.) The Pharisees emerged from this sect, as master interpreters of the oral traditions of the rabbis. Most Pharisees came from middle class families of artisans and tradesmen (as St. Paul was a tent maker). The historian Josephus observed that when the Jewish people faced an important decision, they relied on the opinion of the Pharisees, rather than that of the king or the high priest (Antiquities, Bk.XII, Chap.X Sect. 5 ). Because they were esteemed so highly by the people, they were often chosen for high government positions, such as the Sanhedrin. Could this be a/the reason why they feared Jesus so, His ability to draw large crowds ? Of all the sects of Judaism, the Pharisees were more in line with Jesus’ teachings on the resurrection of the righteous and the eternal punishment of the wicked.

Now why, as we read in our text for this week, did the Pharisees go out and take counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death?

Not much is known about Herodian beliefs as a sect. We do know that they were basicly a political group, made up of Jews from various religious sects. As their name suggests, they supported the dynasty of King Herod the Great, and some scholars believe that they may have taught that indeed, Herod was the Messiah (though there is no hard evidence to support this veiw). But, if this were true, The Pharisees could certainly count on the Herodians to help dispel this Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah, not only from the religious side, but from the political side as well.

One thing is for sure though. Jesus was not  the Messiah they were expecting! And the Pharisees, the Herodians (as well as all the other sects) reacted just as they had every other time before. When some self-proclaimed, or people anointed “messiah” came along, they got rid of him by any means possible – even if that meant using the hated Roman authority.

So, what does all that have to do with us?

Plenty!

Do we think of Jesus in a one way only kind of faith? In other words, do we put God in a box? One that He couldn’t possibly work out of? Is He not what you expected, and you’ve made Him into what you did expect?

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Expectation of the Messiah and his Spirit
 

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“Behold, I am doing a new thing.” Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the “consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.”We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.
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The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,” speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

    There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
    And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
713    The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.” These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus’ Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our “form as slave.” Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.
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This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:
    The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,
    because the LORD has anointed me
    to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
    he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
    to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.
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The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.” St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost. According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace. 
716        The People of the “poor”—those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God’s mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah—are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit’s hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ’s coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready “a people prepared for the Lord.”

Maybe we need to use our time this week, to re-examine who Jesus the Messiah is, in our own lives.

Is He the long awaited Messiah, or is He only what you were expecting the “messiah” to be?

Amen.