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November 4, 1994     The Message
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November 4, 1994

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4, 1994 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 "- Commentary..- Another view of scribes: Mark's denunciation Gospel commentary for Nov. 6, 1994, Thirty.second Sunday, Ordinary Time, Cycle B, Mark 12:3o44. In the context of today's gospel reading a series of four debates be- t.ween Jesus and the various reli- gious factions of Jerusalem have Come to an end. We saw last week how Mark arranged his material to e tlect .a rather affirming view of scribe who approached Jesus for a discussion. We also saw in last Week's COmmentary how Matthew and Luke had changed M:r:p:iiv . tire view of the scribe int Matthew's a ..... g t e wew. In -u ',UZe s version the Marcan scribe is :nhd negatively and the friendly encounter in Luke.  oecomes a confrontation in Matthew and In today's gospel readin of con ..... g Mark joins the chorus 'mnatlon directed a am leadershi .. ..... g st Jewish rehgmus so, but thVe ,n all tour gospels. We wish it were not ,. u gospel authors were children of their ]rne even as we are of our " it is to parr-- hme. We .know how easy - " u or repeat pre udmml become ,,L _ _ 3 vmws untd they ne truth "W written - e know that the gospels were between two a Jesus' d=+. ,,, . nd three eneratmns after -v...,. we also g Jews  L . . know that relatmns between '" anstians b third oft,^ e_ _ ecame very bitter in the last " -rst century. Thus we must be careful not to let the bitterness reflected against Jews in tament be the norm for It is is not. probable that our gospel writers, betray a lamentable knowledge of By FATHER DONALD DILGER COLUMNIST Palestinian geography, were just as poorly informed about the historical relationship between Jesus and the various religious groups in and around Judea and its capital,city Jerusalem. And so, when Mark de- nounces "the scribes" of Jesus' time, we rightly wonder whether it is the scribes he denounces. The scribes were generally of the Pharisee Per- suasion. Pharisees were pious lay people who practiced their Jewish religion with zeal, with devotion to God and their fellow creatures We know the names and reputations of some of these great scribe-scholars of Jesus' time. We can hardly believe that these very men, peers of Jesus, are the true object of Mark's wrath. We find it unbelievable that these good men were, as Mark writes, showoffs, eager for praise and recognition, hypocrites who pretend to make long prayers while at the same time they de- prive widows of their houses. Such a description may fit some religious leaders of that time and our own but hardly the scholar-scribes of whom we know from sources outside the gospels. So where does Mark get the impression that the scribe-scholars of Jesus' time were such shady characters? There was a group of religious leaders who could better wear the mantle Mark puts on them. They were the upper caste of priests, the high priestly clans of the first century A.D. Let's hear a Jewish author of the first century describe these men. Flavius Josephus describes the high priest Annas as "a hoarder up of money," a briber of Roman officials, who "had servants who were very wicked .... who went to the threshing floors and took away by violence the tithes that belonged to the priests and did not refrain from beating those who would not hand over these tithes to them. So the other high priests acted in the same way...without anyone being able to prevent it." It is the behavior of these high priestly families that eventually played a great part in rebellion against authority that resulted in the first Roman-Jewish War and the destruction of the temple. In Mark's little story at the end of today's gospel reading Jesus praises the poor widow who put her last penny, "all she had", into the temple treasury. Mark places this story as a contrast to the greed of"the scribes" in the preceding para- graph. From Josephus' description of the high priestly families it is more probable that the de- nunciations which Mark directs against the scribes actually arose in the popular opinion of the first century against the high priestly families. Later when there were no more temple high priests, those denunciations were unfortunately and bit- terly transferred to the Jewish religious leadership of the time when the gospels were written. These statements then became a basis of Christian perse- cution of Jews throughout the history of Christian- ity. It is our task to separate these layers of preju- dice from the truths of revelation God reveals through them. Lord, why did you use such fragile human beings to be the conveyors of your revela- tion? Wouldn't it have been easier to stage another Sinai to thunder your revelation from the sky? Readings: Kings 17:10-16: Hebrews 9",9,4.28 rt The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods celebrate the first SO Years of the Diocese of EvanSville. Providence hel ers from St. ose h Parish p prepare youngst J p ' in Jasper for First Corn- parishes throughout the diocese as pastoral associates, directors of Wessel OeR) people of jas. nlal of away from Saint 1982-S1er Shella t4ary Gdlfin (right} meets with col- lese campus ministers from the diocese. A former cam- pus minister for ISU-E. Sister Shella Hary ministers m a therapist at Iovldence Courellnli in Evansville. %g/os-Sister Pose Louise Schafer tells students it's "time for the bell" at St. john SchooFReligious Education Center in Loogoote SPs have helped educate children in Southern Indiana since 1842, 1980s--Sister Deidre elements discusses a question with one of her students at Rivet High School, Vncenne The Sisters of Providence welcome their students and alurnnae/i as Companions on the Providence journey. t990s-siscer Hargarer. Norris talks with her first-I'ade suents at the 5 Su'eet School, Jasper. A Jasper naUve, she is now teachln 8 a second genera.Uon of studen Many thanks to the students, parishes and people of Southern Indiana for enriching our lives and mission.