Monday, January 24, 2011

The Scandal

If the Pharisees were to hear of it, it would only confirm their worst fears. A woman. He sought to dialog with a woman. It was forbidden according to a tradition, superficially received. But the Pharisees had their proof-texts.

Add to that the fact that it was not only a woman he sat down with, but a heretic woman. "The mixed population of Samaria was not accepted as Jewish by the Jews. When they returned from the Babylonian Exile and began to rebuild the Temple, the Samaritans were rejected and not allowed even to assist in such a holy project (Ezra 4:1-6)".

Unclean hands. It was one of the worst insults that could be hurled, to be called a Samaritan:

"Aren't we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?," they said to Jesus (John 8:48)


The Samaritans had constructed their own rival temple and scorned Jerusalem. They were the true people of God they claimed, as schism always does. Thus they scornfully rejected the Master:
"Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, 'Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?' But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)
Heretics. To be so treated by heretics was too much for the disciples. And did not Jesus Himself earlier say, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans." (Jn 10:6)?

But the Lord saw something else, and having gone first to the lost sheep of the House of Israel proclaiming that the Kingdom was now among them, it was time to call all, even those whom the disciples shunned. Glad tidings. It was a shock.
"So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon." (John 4:4-6)
Not only a woman. Not only a heretic. But a loose woman (many husbands). Three fatal strikes confirmed the worst fears of the sick at heart who had long ago forgotten the spirit and weightier matters of the law, even as they clung to the letter, and to blind confidence in their own theological and ritual purity. For them the case was closed. But they had forgotten the Heart of the Law:

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."---Luke 5:32

He never said the Samaritans were right in their views. In fact he said the contrary, "You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews." (Jn 4:22) Yet Jesus of Nazareth sought again to call the outcasts, those who held wrong views, those theologically wrong. He met with them in Love, just as he did with the good hearted Nicodemus who could only seek Jesus out "at night" (Jn 3:2), in other words in secret, to talk, dialog. Unlike the bickering Pharisees, Sadducees and Samaritans who were always armed with texts and arguments, the Lord was not always scanning others self-righteously for errors and sins to find fault and set theological trip wires. He looked rather for hearts, which are often better to God's eyes than the thinking of our heads, so prone to pride.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God," He scandalously taught those who were prone to ritual separatism, ritual purity, endless argument and 'righteous' resistance.

Once Loved...

After His Passion and Resurrection, the disciples, their eyes being opened, did the same. St. Paul went throughout the lands of the gentiles and He also dialoged with Jews in their synagogues (click) in other nations. For they were beloved by God for the sake of the covenants. Once loved, always loved.

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (Rom 11: 28-32, emphasis mine)
Grace builds on grace, good upon good. Part way there is a good thing. Everyone is either walking towards the Truth or away from It. If our hearts are right we dialog with all, wherever they are, calling, reasoning, inviting, rejoicing in whatever we can agree on along the Way.

--->From theological madhouses, spare us O Lord...

--->The Pope's Reflections on Facebook...

"One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to. Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words. The 'salvation' of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all."

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn
spoken by Shulubin in the novel Cancer Ward (1968) Pt. 2, Ch. 1 (Thanks to Jim Forest for this)

Tragic Irony. In the United States today we have a new kind of socialism. The wealth is being redistributed upwards to the rich and to their military adventures where the blood has not stopped flowing.

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1 comment:

  1. This piece hits the nail on the head! In this modern age of so much information and beliefs to choose from and the resulting confusion it is vitally important to consider one,s heart. Someone may hold to an erroneous belief but they may be moving from an even more erroneous belief. For example, someone may embrace Evangelical Christianity because they have weighed secular humanism inthe balance and found it wanting. Or someone contemplating a Nw Age worldview may be fleeing from scientific empiricism in an attempt to find something more transcendent.In both cases they are moving towards the truth.As Chesteeton stated, all roads lead to Ropme. Those on that road must be lead, not dragged by the hair.