Todays Gospel reading is full of symbolism. Without understanding the meaning of these symbols it doesn’t make much sense. Jesus goes up a high mountain. Jesus is often depicted as going up a mountain or hill when he wishes to make an important speech or perform an important action. The mountain signiﬁes a place of revelation. It brings to mind mount Sinai where God appeared to Moses and to the people of Israel. Where he made a covenant with them and gave them the ten commandments. Where his presence was signiﬁed by peals of thunder, ﬂashes of lightening and dense clouds. It does not necessarily mean that he actually climbed all these mountains or hills. If it did, then he was quite a mountaineer. He brought along Peter, James and John to witness what was to happen. He was transﬁgured in their sight ; his face and clothes shining brightly. Moses and Elijah appeared with him, talking with him. Moses represents the laws of the Old Testament and Elijah the prophesy of the Old Testament. Moses and Elijah were not transﬁgured. This signiﬁes that Jesus was more important that Moses and Elijah. In the Old Testament nobody was more important than Moses and Elijah except God. Peter, missing this signiﬁcance, suggested that they build three shelters one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. ( This assumes that Peter regarded them as equals.) This building of shelters refers to the very important Jewish feast of Tabernacles which happened at harvest time every year when the grape and olive pickers lived in little shelters in the ﬁelds until the harvest was gathered. It was a time of joy and camaraderie. It harkened back to when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years and lived in temporary shelters. Peter had no sooner ﬁnished speaking when a bright cloud enveloped them ( the cloud signifying the presence of God) and a voice from the cloud said “this is my son, listen to him.” ( this also correcting Peter’s assumption that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were equals). The great teachers of the Old Testament were Moses and Elijah. Now God has replaced them by sending His own Son to be our teacher and exemplar. The one who must be listened to is now Jesus of Nazareth and not Moses or Elijah. The three Apostles were terriﬁed and fell face down to the ground. But Jesus came and touched them telling them not to be afraid. Jesus touched the sick and brought them healing and joy. Here his touch frees his Apostles from fear of the God, often depicted in the Old Testament as vengeful, cruel and judgemental. The God of Jesus was ‘Abba’ the beloved parent. This clash between the God of Moses (the God of Law) and the God of Jesus of Nazareth (the God of Mercy) was a major problem in the early church. The ﬁrst council of the Church ( the council of Jerusalem) was devoted to solving this clash of opinion and attitude. One section of the church ( Jewish and conservative) wanted Christians to observe all the traditional laws and regulations of the Old Testament ( putting new wine into old wineskins, as Jesus himself described it ). The other section ( mostly Gentiles or non Jews ) wanted none of this, as they regarded such traditions and regulations as irrelevant. It is uncanny that we have the very same problem in our church today. Pope Francis and his followers want us to put the new wine ( Christianity) into new wineskins. A group of cardinals, bishops, priests and some lay people want to hold on to the old wineskins at any cost. That is basically what the present debate and contention in our church is all about. This debate and contention is not necessarily bad. In fact it is good and healthy – as long as my side wins!!!
Today’s gospel reading illustrate symbolically the temptations that Jesus of Nazareth had to contend with all his life.
On examination we will find that they are the very same temptations every one of us has to deal with also, in one way or another, throughout our lives.
The first is the temptation to put my physical desires before the wellbeing of others. To put my self interest first. It concerns my physical appetites. Comfort, eating and drinking, sexual desire, dress, how I look, possessions. As usual, all these appetites are in themselves good and God given gifts. The problem is my allowing all or some of them to rule my life. I allow myself to become the slave of one or some of these appetites. Even worse, it damages or even ruins the lives of those closest to me. Galatians 5. “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. … Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions. … In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
The second temptation is particularly applicable to religious leadership. Using God or the Church to promote ones own importance is a constant temptation. Religious organisations are tempted to put their own glorification, their own interests, before the glory of God. Church leaders can try and exercise control over everyday matters over which they have been given no authority. For example …… Church authorities have been given authority to lead people to God. They have been given authority to selflessly seek the total wellbeing of the ordinary members. The temptation is to overstep this.This can be true of all human organisations of course. The party, the company, the club, the religious organisation, can become more important than the members it is supposed to serve. People in leadership roles insist on clinging to power when well past their sell by date. I don’t think our Church or our parish should seek to publicise the good work that we do. I don’t think that, alluring as it can be, we should be speaking of how good we think we are, how well we think we are doing, what we think we have accomplished. A good antidote to this acclaim seeking is to read Mark 10: 17-22. “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, … You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honour your father and your mother. He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth. Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
The third temptation is the allure of power, of control, be it in the home, the church, the country or the world. Just look at our world today or any day. Is not the desire for more power, for more control, behind every military, diplomatic, political and economic move. Within our own church there is a struggle for control. Losing control is a great fear in each and every one of us.
Mark 9. “Then Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to
be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Luke 6. “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
I don’t think that, during this Lenten season, I will run out of issues that need to be addressed in my life.
Last week we spoke about the Canon of the Mass.
The Canon of the Mass makes present again, for our benefit today, the events of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday evening. The bread and wine – things essential for our life and wellbeing and symbolising the offering of our lives and possessions to our God – are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The separation of body and blood signifies the execution which Jesus underwent on Good Friday on a cross.
During the Canon, as well as following the words spoken by the priest, we might find it helpful to picture ourselves reclining at table with Jesus and the Apostles and participating in what is happening. The Apostles, although well aware of the danger they were in from the authorities while they were in Jerusalem, were unaware of events about to happen and the significance of what they were taking part in. We, on the other hand, are well aware of what is happening and of what is about to happen and their significance. The changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ signified his death on the cross which in turn signified the lengths our God was willing to go to in pursuit of our total wellbeing and in his stand in the fight against injustice and oppression. This he has asked me to do in remembrance of His trust-wordiness, faithfulness and total dedication to my welfare.
During the elevation of the body and blood of Christ after the words of consecration (the elevation of the bread and wine) it can be helpful to look on the crucifix and ask myself if this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who is willing to go to such extremes in pursuit of my total welfare, can be trusted. What more could he realistically do to win my total confidence in him and in his promises?
Should I not ask myself if the above is not sufficient to awaken in me a deep and abiding sense of gratitude to my God.
(As an aside, at this stage, it might also be helpful to consider how such a God could possibly be confused with the judgemental, accusatory and punishing god many of us were brought up to believe in).
The concluding part of the canon is when our offerings of thanksgiving now incorporated, or changed, into the total self offering of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross is raised up by the priest and presented to God our Father as the ultimate expression of our gratitude.
Raising up the Baby and Blood of Jesus of Nazareth and our self – offering the priest intones:
‘Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever.’ And God’s whole family here present respond all together in a joyous chorus; ‘Amen.’
This is called the great Amen and signifies our total agreement with, participation in and response to, all we have done and said.
We then move on directly to the Communion.
The Communion is God’s response to our gifts of gratitude to Him/Her.
God receives our gifts (signified by bread and wine). In doing so they are incorporated with, changed into, the self giving (the gifts) of Jesus of Nazareth and offered to us (God’s family here present) as our food and drink. This food and drink is now God’ only begotten son. This unites us with God the Son and thus unites us with the Holy Trinity. It makes us full participants in the life of God. It Makes us participants in the eternal life of God.
This means that symbolically, spiritually, we have already entered into the Eternal Life of God.
We are already in Heaven but cannot experience it physically until our bodies are glorified at the resurrection of the dead.
Receiving Holy Communion is a time of realisation. Realising that we are already one with our God, have already entered into Eternal Life together with and in unity with all our brothers and sisters here present and throughout the world and from all times, past, present and future.
Realising that we should now treat each other as fellow saints in heaven and as God’s beloved children. Realising that the promises of our God are already fulfilled in our lives in spiritual reality.
For the last seven weeks I have talked on the Mass. There is a lot more to be said about the Mass and many more, and different, approaches. I have given you, in these seven homilies, what I myself have found helpful. Some of it is not easily understood so I recommend that if you are serious about learning more about the Mass and about how you might participate more fully in the Mass I would recommend a rereading of these homilies.
We now come to the central part of the Mass.
This is when we offer praise and thanks to God our Father and Creator , through, in union with and in, Jesus Christ. We start with the preface, which like any preface is an introduction to what is to come.
‘The Lord be with you …..
Lift up your hearts …….
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God ……..’
After the preface we start the Canon of the Mass.
This is when we enter the realm of mystery. Thousands of books have been written, down the ages, about how this works but the element of mystery still remains.
It is all to do with Holy Thursday evening (the Last Supper) through to Easter Sunday morning (the Resurrection).
These three days encapsulated the reason for, the meaning of, and the results of the Incarnation.
For the two or three years of his public ministry, how Jesus of Nazareth lived, what he said and did throughout Galilee, guaranteed him the enmity of the political and religious leadership of the land. If today, I and you were to live, act and speak as He did, we too would incur the enmity of the political and religious leadership of this land.
He knew this. His Apostles and followers knew this. His mother and relations knew this.
His mother tried to talk sense to him. His relatives tried to talk sense to him. His apostles tried to talk sense to him and prevent him from going to Jerusalem. He could have quietly slipped away into any one of the neighbouring countries and lain low for a couple of years or so until the authorities forgot about him.
But that would mean surrendering to the forces of injustice, to the forces of oppression. Then the forces of evil would have vanquished him. The forces of evil would have won over the forces of good. Hatred would have defeated love, intolerance would have overcome tolerance, vengeance would have suppressed forgiveness.
So He remained true to the will of His Father irrespective of the consequences for Himself.
He lived as God lives, right up to the end.
And just as the forces of evil, injustice and oppression were congratulating themselves for their success in conquering Him and what He stood for, He arose triumphant from the tomb to lead his Apostles and followers and us today into His Kingdom of light, love and mutual forgiveness and to share in the eternal life of the Father.
This is what the canon of the Mass is about. It makes present for us today the events of Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday morning. We are able to relive these events in symbol. We are able to participate in and witness these events in signs.
This is a mystery.
We do it because He, Jesus of Nazareth, told us to do what He did at the Last Supper in memory of Him. In memory of his whole life among us. And especially in memory of his last three days.
At the Last Supper he did, in a symbolic way, what was about to happen to him in reality, starting that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We continue with the talks on the Mass.
Having completed the first part of the Mass, we are anxious to forge ahead and demonstrate to our God how grateful we are for what our God has done for us.
The greatest way to thank someone for gifts received is to reciprocate with something which the giver of the gift has not got and very much desires.
We were brought up to believe that God has everything. But that is not true.
God is our Father and our Mother. What does a parent desire most in life? Above all else a parent desires the gratitude, respect, appreciation and if possible, the love of their children.
This is something which the parent has not yet got or has not yet received the fulness of. It is something which the parent cannot get a surfeit of. It is something which makes up for, which makes worth while, all the sacrifices, heartache and worry of child rearing. It brings fulfilment and joy to the parent.
God is my parent. My God can never get a surfeit of my gratitude, respect and love. It is the only thing my God desires from me and has not yet got or has not yet got a fulness of.
Now we move on to the second part of the mass – the bringing of the gifts.
What are these gifts? What is actually and visibly brought to the altar is bread and wine.
These are symbols. Bread and wine are food and drink. Food and drink are the two absolute necessities for life and wellbeing. By offering our God these things I are saying to God ‘I offer you my very life and being as a symbol of my gratitude for what you have done for me. From now on my life will be lived through, with and in Christ, in gratitude for your gifts to me – existence, life, resurrection from death and sharing in your eternal life,’ etc.
The offertory procession is a time of decision. Deciding for Christ. Breaking from a way of life that separates me from Christ. Deciding to try and abandon my hostilities, my envies, my jealousies, my greed, my selfishness and self – absorption. Deciding, to try to be forgiving, to be tolerant, generous and kind.
Mentally, I place these decisions for Christ in the hands of the bearers of the bread and wine, to be placed on the altar with the bread and wine, as an expression of my gratitude to my God. This, of course, is done in symbols. Symbols which I understand and which are meaningful to me.
In short, what I am doing and saying during the offertory is placing myself on the altar, with the bread and wine, as an offering to my God, for God to do with as God wishes. This is the sign or symbol of my gratitude. This is my way of saying thank you to my God and my Creator.
So the offertory procession is not for looking at the people who bring the gifts or seeing what they are wearing. The offertory procession is the time when I offer to my God something of myself as a sign of my gratitude.
The presider – the president – the priest, then takes the bread and wine, and raising them up offers them to our God as gifts brought by His family, here present, in gratitude for God’s goodness.
Then the priest says ‘Prey, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.’ And all of you, God’s family here present, respond with one voice; ‘May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy church.’
Our sacrifice, our gifts, are always acceptable to our God as long as they are sincere and authentic and not just empty promises.
Today we continue with our talks on the Mass. The purpose of the readings and the homily is to strengthen our sense of gratitude and our desire to express our thanks and praise to our God; which was our reason for attending Mass in the ﬁrst place. In theory the readings from the Bible illustrate the theme of this particular Mass which is expressed in the collect or opening prayer which immediately precedes the readings. This link between today’s opening prayer and the readings is fairly evident. Often it is not. The link is always there but too often it is only evident to the student of Liturgy and the Scripture scholar. This link and theme is supposed to be brought forth and explained in the homily but very often it would require about a half hour or more to do this adequately. It also presumes a lot of Biblical and liturgical knowledge which one rarely encounters. Since this link is so often obscure, we, the celebrating family of God, will often have to strengthen our sense of gratitude to our God by recalling privately the good things God has done for me – bringing me into existence, calling me out of darkness into his own wonderful light, giving me the free gift of faith, granting me resurrection from death and a sharing in God’s own eternal life. Then, to formalise this recalling of God’s many gifts, we recite, all together, the profession of our faith – the Creed. Here ends the ﬁrst part of the Mass – the preparation for Mass. So what I have said so far is to explain the thinking behind the ﬁrst part of the mass and how I and you should try to make it our own, so that we can proceed to the second part of the Mass with the right disposition and outlook – which is a overwhelming desire to give thanks to God, our Father, Creator and Saviour.
We continue with our talks on the ‘Breaking of Bread.’ Just imagine a Family celebration, be it to welcome a newborn member, to bid a ﬁnal farewell to a aged member who has passed on, to celebrate a new marriage or a jubilee or a Christmas get together. Imagine the sort of atmosphere there would be if there were tensions between members of the family, unresolved disputes, even overt bickering and dislikes. What would your reaction be? ‘Never again will I attend such a farcical event,’ you would resolve. And you would be right. We always begin our celebration of the ‘Breaking of Bread’ with a rite of reconciliation. Our celebration of the Breaking of Bread is a travesty, a farcical exercise, should there exist tensions, disputes, active dislikes, bickering, bitterness, among us. Even should other members of God’s celebrating family know nothing of this situation it effects us all because Our God, who’s love, generosity, compassion and forgiveness we are celebrating, knows all about it, and is hugely affected by it. Just imagine you are enjoying your favourite salad and then you come across a fat snail happily munching away!! I must not deceive myself that the Breaking of Bread is of the slightest beneﬁt to me or to my God if I am actively nourishing dislike or hatred towards anyone or any group of people, be they members of the congregation or not. I am just the slug in the salad. So I cannot overemphasise the importance of reconciliation and mutual forgiveness as we gather for the Breaking of Bread. Reconciliation and mutual forgiveness brings peace and joy to our lives. It lifts the dark veil and burden of dislike, jealousy, and desiring revenge, from our shoulders. Should I humbly and seriously recognise and acknowledge my faults and failings and truly desire reconciliation and offer forgiveness, then I will receive these gifts from my God as soon as I am capable of accepting them. Then I am free to lift up my voice, in company with the rest of God’s family, in praise and thanksgiving to our God, as we say or sing together, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.’ Then we sit and listen to the word of God in the readings and the homily.
Today I continue with talks on the Mass or the ‘Breaking of Bread.’
We were brought up to view the Mass narrowly, as an obligation to be fulfilled by each individual, with no reference to the Mass as a family outpouring of gratitude and praise to God, our Father/Mother and Creator.
One of the first things Jesus of Nazareth did when he started his public ministry was to pick 12 Apostles from among his followers.
Mark 3 “He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him.”
The Apostles symbolised the gathering together of the twelve tribes of Israel – the chosen people.
These were the beginnings of the new people of God; The new family of God.
‘Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
I now quote from Jn. & Matt regarding the first Mass-the Last Supper.
‘He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
‘So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve.’
The Passover meal was a family affair but Jesus celebrated the Passover feast (the Last Supper) not with his mother and relatives but with his new family (the twelve Apostles).
We Christians of Corsham are our new family. We too (like Jesus of Nazareth) celebrate the passover feast, the Last Supper, the Mass, with our new family – those who do the will of our heavenly Father.
When the Last Supper, the Mass, was over Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed alone, privately, to the Father. He did not do this at the Last supper. The Last Supper was a family celebration.
This is very important.
The heart of Christianity, the basis of the universal church, is the local parish community of believers. This is God’s family in this particular place. This is my and your family in this particular place. Our church authorities have been striving for years to set up Deanery and diocesan pastoral councils. It has never worked and will never work. They do not represent a cohesive community. They are not a worshipping community. They have no sense of family.
On the other hand the parish pastoral councils work well. They have cohesion and represent a worshipping community or family.
This is the very basis of our Church.
I abhor the closing of parish places of worship just because there is no resident priest or no regular weekend mass.
You can have a vibrant, cohesive, worshipping community without a resident priest or a regular weekend Mass. This has been proved to be so in countless countries all over the world. You may not have as many members as when there is a resident priest and a regular weekend mass but you will have a strong nucleus of believing, worshipping Christians which can easily expand when conditions change.
There is no reason why a lay person should not conduct a weekend service for the parish community if no priest were available, rather that breaking up the parish family to seek Mass elsewhere. It is the worshipping parish family, be it with or without Mass, which pleases God our Father.
Do not abandon your parish family celebration just because you want to get in mass – to fulfil an imaginary obligation.
‘First of all, I hear that when you meet as a church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk. Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you. For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
This is the earliest written account we have of the Last Supper.
All the Apostles and disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were practising Jews, as was Jesus himself.
The two big differences between the early Christians and Judaism was their belief in the Risen Lord and their practise of the Breaking of Bread (our Mass).In the beginning the breaking of Bread was essentially a very simple act of thanksgiving to the Creator. The Christians shared a meal of bread and wine while recounting and remembering the great things God had done, and continued to do, for them. This Breaking of Bread was doing again what Jesus had done and said at the Last Supper. This doing and remembering, again and again, of the Last Supper, culminating in the arrest and execution of Jesus of Nazareth on a cross, was for them the way par excellence of remembering the lengths their God was willing to go to, in His/Her desire for peace, happiness and justice for all human beings. For the salvation of us human beings.
The reading from St. Paul shows how, even early on, abuses began too creep in to this Breaking of Bread. In some places people began bringing their own food and drink and refusing to share with the less we’ll off, thus causing devisions and jealousy.
So to correct and prevent these and other abuses, down the centuries, the celebration of the Breaking of bread had to be regulated.
Over the centuries one thing led to another and as some of us will remember the breaking of bread became stylised, overloaded with obscure symbolism and celebrated by the priest with his back to the people in a foreign language which nobody in the congregation comprehended. For the congregation their participation consisted of their being present and ‘saying their prayers.’ For all any of the congregation knew the priest might have been darning his socks at the altar. Luckily for us, since Vatican 11, the Breaking of Bread, has been simplified to some extent and is celebrated facing the congregation and in our native language.
Nevertheless our Breaking of Bread celebration needs further modification to make its connection with the Last Supper clearer and the english used needs a lot of work as it is too archaic and tries to say too much in too few words. Also many of the set readings are unintelligible to the normal congregation.
Anyway we have to make do with what we have until such a time as you people demand something better.
So a few pointers for adults which I find helpful.
- You come to Mass because you feel a need to thank your God for existence, for life, for health, for family, for friends and neighbours, for peace and security, for work, for the gift of faith and eternal life etc. In other words you come because you want to.
- Above all, you understand that the pinnacle of God’s demonstration of His/Her love, concern and care for you is his willingness to endure death on a cross in his struggle against injustice, greed, unfettered ambition, and oppression. i.e. for your salvation.
- You understand that by his life death and resurrection he has secured for you resurrection from death and a sharing in the Eternal Life of God.
- You understand that the last supper, which Jesus celebrated with his Apostles, was the symbol of this – his total giving for your wellbeing – and was the way he wanted you to remember him.
- You understand that all this is not a private you/God exercise but the public act of thanksgiving and gratitude of God’s family here in Corsham – our parish congregation.
- That, in the event of their being no mass in your parish on a particular weekend, it is far more important to join with your parish in whatever service of worship they have than scooting off to a different parish, merely to fulfil an imaginary obligation.
This is what is called participation in the Mass.
Todays Gospel reading is a theological narrative.
It is a symbolic narrative or parable with a deep theological meaning which is true for all time.
We do not ask who the Maji were or what country they came from. We do not ask how they travelled or how long they journeyed.
They were Gentiles or non Jews. They knew nothing of the Bible.
They were people who were searching. They were scientists who were seeking to understand the world around them and the cosmos. They were seeking meaning in life and creation. This is the star they were following. A star which at times was bright and beckoning and then again dim or invisible. Firstly they searched in the obvious place for a newborn king (in the royal palace of Herod) They asked questions and took advice in their search.
Eventually they discovered a little helpless child (the newborn son of a very ordinary couple). Certainly not what they were expecting. They were humble enough to bow down and worship. This outlandish behaviour can only be understood by a person who has received the gift of faith.They put their possessions at his disposal. They returned to where they came from satisfied and joyful. This foretells how, although many of the Israelites accepted Christianity, the vast majority of Christians were strangers (non Jews or Gentiles as they were called).
King Herod’s reaction was quite different. He saw the possibility of a newborn king as a threat to his position and power. The chief priests and religious experts were offhand and uninterested in searching for this newborn king. He was an unwelcome nuisance. They went back to their sterile study of the scriptures and their Temple worship.
This foretells clearly the reaction of the political and religious leadership to Jesus of Nazareth.
This foretells the reaction today of the political and religious leadership to anyone who is rash enough to emulate Jesus of Nazareth (the King of the Jews) in his untiring efforts to eliminate poverty, greed and exploitation and to bring freedom and justice to our world. This foretells the reaction to anyone who criticises and continues to criticise our own indifference to the suffering, injustices, unfairness, waste, and exploitation in our own country today and tries to do something about it.
I do not like being made to feel guilty.
I do not like the boat being rocked.