Friday, August 12, 2005 +

GS 78 Posers

From Gospel Scenes:

They return to Jerusalem.

PETER. Master, look: the fig tree you cursed has withered away.

JESUS. Believe God. Whoever tells this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself in the sea,” and has no doubt but believes that what he asks will happen, will have what he asks. Therefore I say to you: whatever you pray for, believe when you pray that you will get it, and you will.

He again goes to the Temple.

CHIEF PRIESTS and ELDERS. By what authority do you do the things you do? Who authorized you?

JESUS. I also shall ask a question: answer it and I’ll tell you by what authority I do what I do. John’s testimony—was it from God or from men?

They say to themselves, “If we say from God, he’ll say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ but if we say from men we anger the people, who are convinced that John was a prophet.”

CHIEF PRIESTS. We do not know.

JESUS. Then you will not know by whose authority I do what I do. Let me ask you this. A man had two sons. He went to the firstborn and said, “Son, work today in my vineyard.” The boy replied, “Yes, sir,” but did not work. The man then went to his other son and asked him. First the boy said, “No, I will not,” but later he changed his mind and worked in the vineyard. Tell me, which son did his father’s work?

ELDERS. The second.

JESUS. Yes: that is why the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom before you.

CHIEF PRIESTS. John said it himself: he was not a prophet.

JESUS. A landowner planted a vineyard, set a hedge around it, built a wine press, and erected a tower; then he let the vineyard out and went to another country. At harvest time he sent a servant to the vineyard to receive his share of the produce. The tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. The landowner sent another servant. The tenants threw stones at him and struck his head before sending him away. The landowner sent another servant. The tenants murdered him. Many others were sent; some were murdered and some merely beaten. The landowner had a son, whom he loved. He said to himself, “At least they’ll respect my son.” He sent him to his vineyard. When the tenants saw the landowner’s son they said to themselves, “This is the heir: if we kill him the inheritance is ours.” They seized the son, took him out of the vineyard, and murdered him. Tell me—when the landowner returns, what will he do to the tenants?

CHIEF PRIESTS. He’ll destroy them and lease his vineyard to others who will give him its fruits.

JESUS. Do you remember the passage, “The same stone the builders refused is become the headstone in the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? Don’t be surprised when the Father’s kingdom is taken from you and given to a people who will bring forth its fruits. A king gave his son in marriage and invited the entire kingdom to attend the wedding. As the king greeted his guests he saw among them a man who was not properly dressed. He asked him, “My friend, why aren’t you wearing your wedding clothes?” But the man said nothing. The king said to his servant, “Tie his hands and feet, and toss him into the darkness where he will scream and chew his tongue.”

Herod’s supporters join the discussion.

HERODIANS. Master, we know you always speak the truth and teach God’s word regardless of persons or public opinion. Tell us, then, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or is it not?

JESUS. Pretenders, do you wish to tax or be taxed? Show me a coin.

They bring out a silver piece.

JESUS. Whose image and name are on it?

HERODIANS. Caesar’s.

JESUS. Then give Caesar what is Caesar’s and give God what is God’s.

Although the Sadducees don’t believe in existence after death, some Sadducees pose Jesus a question about it.

SADDUCEES. Teacher, you know the law of Moses: “If brothers live together and one dies childless, his wife shall not marry outside the family; her husband’s brother shall marry her and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Given this, consider the case of seven brothers. The eldest married and died, leaving no children. The second married his brother’s wife and also died leaving no children. So the third down to the seventh. Last of all the woman died. Tell us: at the Resurrection, which of her seven husbands will she be married to?

JESUS. On this point and others you misunderstand both scripture and God’s power. When men and women rise from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage but will live like God’s angels in heaven. But why cite Moses, since you don’t believe in the Resurrection? You remember God said to Moses, “I am the God of your fathers: the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” The God of Moses is not the God of the dead but of the living.

A Pharisee lawyer speaks up.

THE LAWYER. Teacher, which command of the Law is the greatest?

JESUS. You know the first commandment, “Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” You know the second also: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

THE LAWYER. Rabbi, you are right. There is only one God, and there is none other than he, and to love him with all one’s understanding, strength, and will, and one’s neighbor as one’s self, is worth more than any amount of burnt offerings and sacrifices.

JESUS. You are near God’s kingdom: love your neighbor.

THE LAWYER. Tell me, who is my neighbor?

JESUS. A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among thieves who wounded him, stripped him, and left him for dead. A priest was going down the same road. He saw the man and passed by on the other side. A Levite came by and also avoided him. Then a Samaritan came by, saw him, and pitied him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds after bathing them in oil and wine. He carried him to an inn, and nursed him though the night. The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “See that he gets well—whatever the added expense I’ll repay you when I return.” Tell me, of the three, who was the neighbor of the person who fell among thieves?

THE LAWYER. The person who did good to him.

JESUS. Go and do like him.

JESUS to the some scribes. Tell me about the Messiah. Whose son is he?

SCRIBES. He will descend from David.

JESUS. Then why did David call him Lord, as in the psalm, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies my footstool”? If David called him Lord, how is he his son?

They can’t answer him. He turns to the crowd.

JESUS. The Pharisees and scribes preside over the Law. You may therefore do what they say. But you mustn’t do what they do, since they say and do not. They tie together heavy loads and put them on men’s backs and won’t lift a finger to lighten them. They do everything for display. They have the Law written all over them and they dress in dark robes. They are passionate for the head table at banquets and for the front seats in synagogues. They preen themselves on being recognized in public and being called Rabbi. You are to call no man Rabbi. You have one Rabbi, the rest are students. You are to call no man Father. You have one Father, he is in heaven. You are to call no man leader. You have one leader, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. The man who raises himself will be lowered and the man who lowers himself will be raised. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You block the door to God’s kingdom, neither entering yourselves nor allowing others to enter. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You eat up widows’ houses and make a show of being devout: thus you double your damnation. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You somersault land and sea to make a single convert, and then make him twice as twisted as yourselves. Alas, blind guides. You say, “If anyone swears by the Temple it does not count, but if he swears by the gold in the Temple he is bound by oath.” Ignorant teachers, which is more important, the gold or the Temple that sanctifies the gold? You say, “If anyone swears by the altar it means nothing, but if he swears by the gift of the altar he is bound by oath.” Blind fools, which is more important, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Anyone who swears by the altar swears by everything on it. Anyone who swears by the Temple swears by God’s kingdom and its king. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You deal in the herbs and spices and ignore the meat of the Law—charity, forgiveness, faith. Attend to these and the rest will have their place. Blind mouths, you vomit the ant and swallow the camel. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You scour the outside of cups and plates and leave the inside full of greed and crime. Blind Pharisees, clean the inside first, then the outside. Alas, Pharisees and scribes, pretenders! You build monuments to the prophets and filigree the graves of the just, and say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we should never have joined them in killing the prophets.” What you are saying is, your fathers murdered the prophets and you bury them. Children of snakes, no wonder you love graves, being worms. How can you escape damnation in hell? I shall send to you prophets, and wise men, and teachers. Some you will kill and crucify, some you will scourge in synagogues and persecute from village to village until on you comes all the righteous blood shed on earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, Barachias’ son, whom you murdered between Temple and altar. What I say to you is, All this shall be laid to this generation. Jerusalem, my dear Jerusalem, who kill the prophets and stone the messengers sent you, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused. Look: your house is empty. I say to you, You will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he that comes in the Lord’s name.”

People are putting money in the Temple treasury. Many rich people are contributing large sums. A poor widow comes and puts in two copper coins amounting to a penny. Jesus sees her and points her out to his followers.

JESUS. What I say is. The poor woman gave more than the rest. They gave part of their wealth: she in her poverty gave everything, even what she needs to live.

He goes out of the Temple.

A FOLLOWER. Look, Master—what magnificent structures and stonework!

JESUS. Observe the buildings well: the time is coming when everything will be thrown down and not one stone will stand on another.

THE TWELVE. When will it be—what signs should we look for?

JESUS. Don’t be misled by prophecies and portents. Men will say, “I am the one,” and “The time is coming.” Many will be deceived—you mustn’t be. If anyone says to you, “He is in the desert,” don’t follow him. If anyone says, “He is in the next room,” don’t believe it. Adam’s son will come like lightning out of the east shining into the west. You’ll hear of wars and threats of wars. Don’t be deceived: these things must happen, but they are not the end. Nation will war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes and famines and plagues: these will be like only the beginnings of birth pains. When you see standing in the sacred place the abomination of desolation Daniel saw, then everyone in Judea must escape to the mountains. No one on the rooftop must return to his house to get his clothes. Alas for those who are pregnant or have babies at the breast! Pray that you don’t need to escape in winter or on the Sabbath. There will be sorrow, such as hasn’t been from the beginning of the world until now and never will be again. If these days are not shortened, no one would live, but for the sake of the chosen the days will be shortened. Two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at a mill: one will be taken and the other left. The people will fall by the edge of the sword and will be imprisoned by the nations. Jerusalem will be kicked by the nations, until the nations are weary. When a tree is budding and putting forth leaves, you know spring is near. Know then that it is near—at your very door. You will see it happen in this generation. Heaven and earth will be destroyed: my word will remain. You won’t see Adam’s son, but you will vindicate him before the world. The world will hate you; you will be tortured and killed; many will fail, and betray one another, and hate one another; evil will abound; love will grow cold: but whoever endures to the end will be saved. As to the day and the hour, no one knows, not the angels in heaven nor the son, but only the Father. As the flood came in Noah’s day, so Adam’s son will come. Before the flood up to the day Noah entered the ark there was eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. No one knew until the flood came and took them all away. That is how Adam’s son will come. The earth will shudder; the sun will be darkened; the moon will not give her light; the stars in the heavens will fall; there will be a groaning among the powers of heaven. Then from the clouds the son of Adam will come with great power and glory: he’ll send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from the four winds and his trumpet will blast from the ends of the earth to the utmost reaches of heaven. So be alert: you don’t know when your master will come. If a man knew what hour a burglar intended to break into his house he would be ready and not let his house be broken into. Because you don’t know when the son of Adam will come, you must always be ready. Who is the dutiful and intelligent servant whom his master put in charge of the household to feed everyone at the proper time? Fortunate for that servant when the master returns and finds him at his task. He will give his servant charge of all his lands. But the neglectful servant, thinking his master slow in coming, will make slaves of his fellow servants and feast with gluttons, and his master will return when he no longer expects him. The master will torture the neglectful servant and put him with the other pretenders, where there will be screeching and chewing of tongues. Consider ten bridesmaids who took up their lamps and awaited the bridegroom. Five were prudent and five careless. The careless ones took lamps but no extra oil, while the prudent took containers of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long in coming they all grew drowsy and slept. At midnight they heard a shout: “The bridegroom’s coming! Get ready to meet him!” The bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps. The careless said to the prudent, “Give us some oil—our lamps are going out.” But the prudent answered, “There may not be enough for us and you. Get some from the sellers.” While they were getting oil the bridegroom came: the bridesmaids who were ready went in with him to the wedding and the door was shut. When the others returned they said, “Master, Master, open the door!” He said, “I don’t know you.” An employer was going away. He called his servants and made them responsible for his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, according to their ability. Then he left. The servant who received five talents used them to acquire five more. Likewise the servant who received two acquired two. But the servant who received one talent dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s wealth. After a long time the employer returned and called his servants in for an accounting. The servant who received five talents brought also the other five and said, “Master, you gave me five talents. Look: I have acquired five more.” The master said to him, “Excellent, my good and trustworthy servant. Because you have accomplished much with little I shall give you charge of much. Come: share your master’s delight.” The servant who received two talents said, “Master, you gave me two talents. Look: I have acquired two more.” His master said to him, “Excellent, my good and trustworthy servant. Because you have accomplished much with little I shall give you charge of much. Come: share your master’s delight.” Then the servant who received one talent said, “Master, I knew you were greedy—reaping where you haven’t sown and harvesting where you haven’t planted. I was scared and hid your talent in the earth. Look: you have back what is yours.” His master said, “You miserable and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I don’t sow and harvest where I don’t plant. You should at least have given my wealth to usurers, in order that I might get it back with interest. Take from him his one talent and give it to the servant with ten. Everyone who has used his wealth shall be given more and shall be rich, but everyone who has not used it shall be deprived of it. Throw the useless servant out into the darkness, where he can screech and chew his tongue.” When Adam’s son comes in glory with all his holy angels about him, he will sit on this throne of glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered. He will divide each nation, putting the sheep on his right side and the goats on the left. He will turn to his right and say, “Come into my Father’s blessing and inherit the kingdom I have prepared for you from the beginning of creation. I was hungry; you fed me. I was thirsty; you gave me drink. I was abandoned; you received me. I was naked; you clothed me. I was sick; you visited me. I was in prison; you came to me.” The righteous will say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, thirsty, and give you drink, abandoned and receive you, naked and clothe you, sick and visit you, in prison and come to you?” The king will say, “What you did to the lowest of my brothers you did to me.” He will turn to his left and say, “Leave me, you accursed ones, and dwell in the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry; you gave me no food. I was thirsty; you gave me no drink. I was abandoned; you did not receive me. I was naked; you did not clothe me. I was sick; you did not visit me. I was in prison; you did not come to me.” They will say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or abandoned, or naked, or sick, or in prison, that we should go to you?” He will say to them, “What you did not do to the lowest of my brothers, you did not do to me.” Then these will go away to everlasting torment, and the just will enter into everlasting life.