I Never Knew I Missed the Point!

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone missed your point? I certainly have.  Also, more times than I care to admit, I have been the one who missed the point.

Sometimes I have taken things personally when the other person was talking about something that had nothing to do with me. I missed the real point of what the other person was talking about.

I suspect we are all especially prone to miss another’s point in heated discussions.

I wonder if I have misunderstood why Luke includes this saying of jesus.

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? LUKE 6:41

How many times have I read Jesus’ words?  I have often preached about these words.

But I never realized his words speak to the interactions between deeply polarized factions listening to Jesus… and to the even sharper polarization in the decades after Jesus’ resurrection.

Now I see two deeper levels to Jesus’ words

Jesus speaks to the divisions of his day

The Sadducees insisted on a literal interpretation of the text of Scripture; the Pharisees, on the other hand, gave oral tradition equal authority to the written Word of God. If the Sadducees couldn’t find a command in the Tanakh, they dismissed it as man-made.

In all likelihood, Jesus’ words addressed the sharp disagreements between them. He was not speaking to either side individually … but to both sides. Each thought they were superior to the other. He challenged them both to recognize that neither side really understood the kingdom.

Luke speaks to the divisions of the first generations of Christians.

Jews could not envision life without circumcision, dietary laws and life built around the temple, and many forms of ritual and sacrifice. The Gentiles, for their part, were bewildered by the Jewish claim that Jewish customs were part of Jesus’ message.

The “culture wars” of Luke’s time were furious.

Luke writes as a pastor trying to hold his flock together. In his Gospel, Luke selected material that pointed out the Jewish roots of those steeped from birth in Greek culture. On the other hand, he affirmed the legitimacy of Gentile Christianity as the fulfillment of what the Jewish people longed for.

Echoes of divisions in Paul

Paul wrote

“Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? …  For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians, chapter 3.

Fast forward to today…

Today we have those who cling to a late medieval view of the Church as expressed in the language and liturgy of the Council of Trent. Others seem to think everything is up for grabs. Each group sees the shortcomings of the other. Neither is open to how they themselves miss the point.

Jesus could well be addressing them when he said “Do you understand what I have just done? Wash one another’s feet in memory of me! “By this will they know you are my disciples!

Pope Francis has been at pains to show how the decisions of the Second Vatican challenge both liberals and conservatives, inheritors of the tendencies of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

If you have any doubts, I urge you to go beyond media sound- about Pope Francis. In his major writings, he takes great pains to connect the dots between the Gospel tradition and our still growing understanding of the Our Father and the Eucharist transcending the incomplete understanding and differences between factions.

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk


1 Comment

  1. Tom M

    Thanks for briniging in Pope Francis’ wisdom…