Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Luke, Was Jesus this insensitive? REALLY?

I do not purport to be a Biblical scholar. I do know that there are scholars that say that the Gospels may not have been written by the Saints they are ascribed to and that perhaps they were written by the communities that were established by these Saints. Almost all scholars agree that they were written many years after the resurrection of Christ, before that they were carried word by mouth. The originals writings were lost and many translations followed. Ergo it is hard to accept them as a word for word quote of Jesus. The important thing is the Holy Spirit has a point to make and does. However I would like to take this opportunity to treat two passages from St. Luke as though it was written by the Saint who travelled with St. Paul and question the veracity of the quotes he ascribes to Jesus as more of St. Luke trying to make his point. The first reading I would refer you to is Luke 10, 38-42, Martha and Mary.

Luke has Jesus dropping in on the girls and their brother Lazarus as he and his troop were travelling from town to town. They stay for supper and Martha is doing all the preparation and serving while Mary camps at Jesus' feet and listens to the men talk. Martha's feeling bushed and asks Mary for help and she doesn't move so Martha appeals to Jesus. He answers that Mary has chosen the best part and it will not be taken away while at the same time seemingly chastising Martha for being worried about things that really don't matter.

Now come on St. Luke did Jesus really say that. This wasn't a small thing you know. There were at least 13 men counting Jesus and his disciples and who knows how many others who were following him from town to town. But at the very least counting Lazarus and his two sisters there were 16 people and it could've been a lot more. This wasn't like feeding the 5000, she was manually preparing and serving. They couldn't call the local Pizzeria for a half dozen everything pizzas. Besides the fact Mary was sitting with the men which was a little unheard of. Even today Orthodox Jews keep the women apart from men so you can imagine how it was in Jesus' day. I am also sure St. Luke that as a Greek man you never prepared a feast in your life.
Jesus however seemed to understand the plight of the women of his day, in fact maybe he was one of the first feminist, remember how he treated the woman found in adultery and the prostitute that washed his feet with oils and dried them with her tears. I know St. Luke, you wanted to make your point and I guess The Holy Spirit's too, that the bread of life is more important then the bread needed by the body. But I can't see Jesus being that insensitive to Martha whose body probably was aching from being tired and the soul wanted a little of what Mary was getting. No, Jesus would've found a better way, a gentler way to handle this.

The second reading Luke 17, 11-19 The Cleansing of Ten lepers

Jesus and his guys were travelling through Samaria and Galilee when 10 lepers approached him and asked for a healing. Pretty tall order I'd say. Jesus was filled with feeling for them and he told them to show themselves to the priests. They were cured on the way. The Samaritan came back to offer thanks and Jesus commended him while seemingly chastising the 9 Jewish lepers, first for not giving thanksgiving to God through Jesus, and lacking faith. Again St. Luke, I know you had a point to make. Is it possible your Greek background kept you from seeing things that Jesus himself would have seen and recognized?

The first amazing thing about this story is that the 9 Jewish guys let the one Samarian travel with them Samaria was once the Northern Kingdom of Judea but they intermingled with the Pagans and eventually lost the faith. They hated one another as the Jews felt they were blasphemers and the Samaritans felt they were looked down upon and discriminated against, which they were. But as Lepers according to Mosaic law they were expelled from the community. They lived on garbage and what they could hunt until they lost parts of their bodies and eventually expired. Out of their need they bound together and tried to survive as best they could laying aside religious differences. Jesus did nothing but tell them to show themselves to the Priests. They knew according to Mosaic law only the Priests could readmit them into the community. Only when they were on their way did they become clean. The nine Jews were faithful to the orders and continued to see the Priests. First they had the faith to turn and head for the Priests before they had seen any change. That takes a lot of faith. I might have asked Jesus for something more tangible; Wouldn't you as a Greek, St. Luke? Then to continue only showed obedience to a command they truly understood as a mandate of their faith and doing what Jesus told them to do. Who knows? Perhaps they became followers of "The Way" and did great things? We do know from this recounting that they were men full of faith and trusted in Jesus. They followed his every word. The Samaritan actions proves your point St. Luke  and hopefully he returned to Samaria to spread the Gospel. His actions however in no way makes the 9 Jewish lepers any less faithful or trusting in Jesus. Now tell me the truth St. Luke, if you could express this story in a slightly different way and still make your point (AND THE HOLY SPIRIT'S) wouldn't you do it?

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