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November 1, 1996     The Message
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November 1, 1996

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1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 11 Commentary_ bitter attack on scribes: A message to the Christian synagogue GOspel Commenta:y for Judaism had ever claimed for Moses. This is as far as today's gospel reading goes, but 3, 1996: Thirty-First Time: Cycle A: 23:1-12 During the siege of Jerusalem 69-70 AD a well known scribe secretly the besieged city. He was Roman general Ves- He asked him for the city where, together with scholars, he began the n of Judaism without or priesthood. The destroyed when the Without the tern- was no sacrificial system and the priest- [ By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST Conflict was inevitable. Matthew 23, from which our gospel reading is taken today, is evidence of how fierce that conflict became. From Matthew's condemnation of those he calls "scribes and Pharisees" it is obvious that conflict ensued not only over interpretation of the Torah but over the sending of mis- sionaries from both groups, mis- sionaries who came into conflict with each other. There must have been mutual condemnation and name-calling. Such seems to be the background of Matthew's twenty- third chapter or perhaps of his whole gospel. power base. Influence and leadership the great scribes who were more or  SUccessors of the Pharisees of Jesus' time earlier. Yavneh now became a cen- of the Torah. Jewish communities to the scholars of the academy at on various religious questions. eir interpretation of the Law of the Torah, that formed much of post-temple Interpretation of the Torah by the scholars not the only interpretation. Their r and hero Was Moses. In the second half of there was another group of a:epting Gentiles into their mem- ero and ultimate interpreter of the Not only did they consider Jesus Christian proclamation aimed far more for Jesus than Matthew recognizes the authority of "the scribes and Pharisees" because "they have sat on the seat of Moses." He considers them hypocrites because, he says, they preach but do not practice. He tells his Christian community to do what they say but not what they do. Other accusations: they bind heavy burdens on others but don't lift a finger to help carry those burdens. Not only their deeds but even the traditional and sacred adornments worn by Jews are nothing but external show. He accuses them of loving places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues, of wanting to be greeted in public with titles of distinction. He warns his Chris- tian readers that there are to be no such titles of distinction in the Christian community. Why not? There was a principle widely proclaimed in the Old Testament and perhaps learned from experience: "Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled, but those who humble themselves shall be exalted." Matthew's scathing denunciations of "the scribes and Pharisees" gets even worse. One must question the wisdom of choosing such a gospel for public reading in Church in a world that has known far too much anti-Judaism. Much of that anti-Judaism finds its sources in the Gospel of Matthew. If readers do not understand the climate of bitter conflict from which Matthew 23 arose, it is quite easy to transfer his invective and condemnation to Jews of all time, as has been done with tragic consequences. Most tragic of all is the fact that all this horrible denunciation is put by Matthev into the mouth of Jesus. This practice of attributing one's words to the hero of movement was in accord with the custom of the time and with the type of literature we have in the gospels. There is, however, an important lesson to be learned even from this material. Matthew was speaking to his Christian community. The pompous behavior, the perks and privileges, the burdens placed on others without sharing in those burdens, the outward display, the titles, the lack of humility all these Matthew claims to have experienced in his opponents. There is enough evidence in his gospel that he was experiencing the same problems in his own Church. One piece of evidence is his bal- ancing of the power given to Peter in chapter six- teen with the power given to the Christian commu- nity in chapter eighteen. Three times he insists on humbling rather than exalting oneself. Only Matthew refers to Jesus as "meek and humble of heart." Only Matthew applies to Jesus the words of Zechariah, "Your king comes to you humble .... " Readings: Malachy 1:14b.2:2b,8-10; I Thessalo- nians 2:7b-9,13. Have You had difficulty qualifying for standard life insurance? .... Catholic Knights of America introduces BENEVOLENT LIFE a0% Death Benefit 60% 100% yr 3rd yr Prlraittras beginning as ow as $50 * Unlike some "Guaranteed issue" policies, coverage begins at issue and increases annually for permanent coverage up to $5,000 * Annual Premiums for each $1,000 of coverage MALE FEMALE Age 50 44.59 35.81 Age 60 71.46 55.55 Age 70 119.42 95.15 Available ages 0-80 information call our Office at 1-800.844.3728 or our area represenative: Francis Schutte p.O. Box 20 Englefleld, Indiana 47618 (8121 867-6342 Golden Jubilarians , Earl and Gemma (Kunkel) Michel of Dale will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at St. Joseph Church, Dale. A dinner for family and invited guests will follo: An Open House and reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dale Commu. nity Center. The couple was married Nov. 14, 1946, at St. Joseph Church, Jasper, by Father John Finis. Father Finis will con-celebrate the anniversary Mass. They are the par- ents of three children: Mary Thomas of Avond:le, Ariz., Bernie Michel of Evansville, and Debbie Funk of Boonville. They have eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchil. dren. Mr. and Mrs. Funk own and operate Michel's Lawn and Garden Center in Dale. DUBOIS COUNTY BANK MEMBER OLD NATIONAL EtANCORP Member I:DIC YOUR FIX00 STAR SERVICE BANK