Back in the days before there was cable television, certain movies would draw my father or grandfather’s attention and we would be compelled to watch. When I remember in particular is Guess who’s coming to dinner? Starting Spencer Tracy. It was a powerful film that spoke to prejudice, racism, hatred, and presuppositions.

The part that had the most impact on me was when Spencer Tracy one by one went through the things that everyone perceived as acceptable and shot them down as being totally wrong. The message in that film is still as poignant today as it was then.

 As I’ve studied scripture, many confrontations that Jesus has with the Pharisees and the scribes take place over dinner,  As much as these people feared and dislike Jesus, they had an inexplicable attraction to him and kept inviting him to situations where confrontation was inevitable. Todays Gospel is no exception. If just this passage was  to be titled as a movie  it could be Hard words for Hard Hearts. Jesus, did not spare their feelings, it is safe to assume that appetite’s were ruined. During the course of this dinner Jesus tells the Pharisees they are greedy hypocritical disobedient proud and defile those who come in contact with them. Jesus calls the murderers of the prophets who build monuments to the immoral and awful acts of their fathers therefore condoning what they had done. Going Old testament on them he uses a phrase that’s found in Isaiah…Woe.

As present-day readers of this gospel are we a little uncomfortable with the words that we hear coming from the mouth of the savior? Where is the gentle loving savior? The compassionate Christ? Why is he talking like this we wonder and then we understand.. this is the king and he is speaking as one who has ultimate authority. The king of glory has come and is addressing disloyal subjects on how they have failed him. Rebuking those who should know better, calling out those who are damaging the kingdom instead of helping to build it

Not just the Pharisees, but the scribes fall under the gaze of the king. Accusing them of taking the key of knowledge which  prevents their entering heaven but they use it as a tool to ensure that others are prevented from reaching heaven as well. Rather than accept the righteous king, the scribes and Pharisees became hostile towards the Lord questioning him, plotting to catch him at anything to get him convicted and removed from Jerusalem. Jesus knew the darkness of their hearts and still confronted them. We can learn a valuable lesson ourselves in today’s Gospel. We  learn how to stand in the face of opposition to the Kingdom, we can learn to lean on the words of Jesus and the example of Christ, after all we are the body of Christ! In the first letter of John we read

“You, dear children, are from God and overcame them, because the one within you is greater than the one in the world!”

Deacon Jim Mackintosh

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