Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 368

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts may be corrupted
from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.
For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it well enough.

Some contemporary scripture scholars have scrutinized the teachings of Jesus and sorted them into several categories. There are sayings he would have learned from his Jewish religion and passed along to his disciples; teachings the church might have formulated later on; and, finally ipsissima verba, the very words of Jesus. This last category should also be “back translated” into Aramaic, Jesus’ language, and still have some resonance. If they sound better in Greek than in Aramaic, they’re probably not ipsissima verba, things he actually said because no one else could have.  

These scholars put Jesus’ miracle stories to a similar test. Do they sound like something Jesus would have done, or something he should have done to fulfill the ancient prophesies? Feeding five thousand sounds too much like the gift of manna in the desert; and walking on water bears a suspicious resemblance to the parting of the Red Sea. Even the last supper may have been only a Passover meal.

With these and other devices these scholars attempt to separate Jesus from the gospels. They want to determine who Jesus was before the Church permanently altered the story to fit its own purposes. They assume, of course, that the Church got it all wrong and that they might, just might, be able to rediscover “the real Jesus.”

Saint Paul was familiar with these 20th and 21st century scholars because he met the same opposition in Corinth. Certain “super apostles” were preaching “another Jesus” with “a different gospel” and a “different spirit.” And gullible Christians were eating it up. As they still do.

Just as Saint Paul insisted upon his own authorization to preach the gospel, the Church in every age must reassert its authority. There will always be outsiders who make some claim to knowing Jesus with their better sciences, ideology or philosophy. Confident that Jesus remains unassailably popular for all time and with every demographic, they attack his Church rather than the man himself.

Surprisingly, unaccountably, the Church rides out every storm. A woman told me the other day that Jesus had been drugged while on the cross and revived on the third day. I reminded her of Matthew 28:15: And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present [day].” They always have and always will fabricate alternate gospels to fit their purposes.

Faith is not simply believing in Jesus anyway.  It is also believing that the Holy Spirit will always preserve the Church in Truth. For without her, there is no salvation.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.