The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

Memorial of Saint Justin the Martyr

Date: 
Mon, 06/01/2015
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

In this corner we have the contender Jesus of Nazareth,
a carpenter’s son turned itinerant preacher,
accompanied by a rag-tag group of fishermen, tax collectors, loose women.
In the other corner we have the reigning champions, the caretakers of the Jewish temple,
the official religious authorities of the People of God, the Pharisees and the Scribes,
backed by centuries of tradition passed from generation to generation.
The one left standing in the end is the winner.
 
Ding!
Jesus shows his stripes with a 1-2-3 punch delivered to the Jewish religious authorities.
The cleansing of the temple:  “you have made my Father’s house a den of thieves”…WHAM!
The cursing of the fig tree:  “you’re as barren as a fruitless fig tree”…WHACK!
“Those currently charge of God’s vineyard are murders and thieves”… THUMP!
He takes his stand as the struggle ensues.
The crowd cheers.  They’re on their feet.
They’re tired of being brow-beaten by the current temple administrators.
A new leadership would suit them fine.
 
What’s at stake here is more than a title, more than bragging rights.
If the Pharisees and Scribes win, the status quo remains in place.
The temple and associated religious practices remain on the current trajectory.
If Jesus wins, the temple becomes a house of prayer for all the nations, not just the Jews.
And the Jews lose possession of and control of their most valuable religious treasure.
The champion of this match will receive, once and for all, the honor and distinction as
“the one who speaks for God.”
 
There have been rumors that a “beloved Son” has been stirring up the people,
putting outlandish ideas in their heads.
Something new, something historic is on the horizon.
But the Scribes and Pharisees have been in this ring many times
and they have remained undefeated.
All previous contenders were dispatched.
This new upstart will soon come to the same end.
 
Sure enough, even though Jesus’ performance is exceptional,
he takes an upper cut to the jaw and is knocked-out.
He’s down for the count.  The Pharisees and Scribes are declared the winners.
But their victory is short-lived and is soon overturned.
 
Jesus confronts the truth of corruption.   The leaders of God’s people have strayed.
Over time they forgot they were tenants with contractual obligations.
They saw themselves as owners and sought to claim the owner’s privileges.
They no longer recognized God and resented all attempts to confront their distortions.
Jesus is dispatched because he dares to speak for God.
 
“Who speaks for God?”  To whom do we listen? 
Not all inner and/or outer voices find their source in divine inspiration. 
May we remain open to and responsibly receive God’s truth.