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Bad Religion (Luke 13:31-35)
Submitted by davidsmith197
Fri, 1 Mar 2013
One of the more ‘outside the box' suggestions that has been made to me lately by some members of our online community is that I should throw my hat in the ring as a candidate to be the next Pope.
This wasn't an idea that I came up with myself, and I haven't quite decided yet whether I will accept the job, if asked. Even so, as has been pointed out, an Episcopal Pope would be a first and we could expect a lot of changes. And indeed I promise that, if elected, there will be a lot of changes!
Even so, I don't think it's highly likely that I'll make the shortlist. Indeed, I received an email from a Catholic friend of mine today that listed the likely candidates for the top job, along with their respective odds, and my name wasn't to be found anywhere on that list. Indeed, the list was made up entirely of Catholic cardinals. And so I'm guessing that, while in a sense the job could go to anyone, it will most likely be given to another aging white cardinal. No surprises there.
And that's generally the way it is with the religious life - it's one of few surprises. It doesn't always start out that way of course. Our initial days and weeks and even years with Jesus can be full of dynamism and upheaval, but after a while things become more predictable, and reading the Bible can be like that too.
We read these passages from the Old and New Testaments here week after week, and after a while you do start to be able to anticipate what's going to happen next, even if you're not familiar with the exact text.
Someone in a town Jesus is visiting has a terrible illness! Well … I think I know where this story is going! I bet they're not going to be sick for much longer! And so we close our eyes and drift off and let the words of Scripture float by with minimal disruption. There's not much to disturb us here!
Well … today's passage from Luke chapter 13 is NOT one of those passages!
Luke 13:31: "At that very hour some Pharisees came"
We know what this means of course. The Pharisees are there because they want to trick Jesus in some way. Their overall intent is to kill Jesus, and so we know that whenever they show up on the scene it is with some evil intent.
Not so! These Pharisees are there to warn Jesus: "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you."
Just when we thought we had the Pharisees and their religious buddies all worked out we come across this group of Pharisees who appear to be genuinely concerned for Jesus.
And why not? Not all Pharisees were bad people. The vast majority were probably very decent people, even if many of them did end up getting involved in the plot to destroy Jesus. Decent people often do terrible things, and often for the very best of reasons! It seemed like a good idea at the time!
We love to divide the world into good people and bad people - us and them - but life is never that simple.
I watched some of a satirical version of Star Wars the other night and it brought home to me again that one of the reasons we like that series so much is that it does lay out the world for us in those simple terms. There's a light side and a dark side - black and white. Those who are on the dark side are very dark and those who are of the light are as courageous as they are virtuous.
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