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Friday, 27 August 2021 18:19

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 2021

Written by Fr Bill Burt SVD

 

“YOU ARE WRONG!”

Gospel of Mark 7:1-23

Sunday, 29th August, 2021

Bill Burt 150For some reason, it seems to be a part of human nature to delight in catching someone out! Putting another down is so common. By putting someone down, we raise ourselves up, and make ourselves seem better and brighter than the other. Or possibly, we don’t want another to appear in a better light than other people, so we use a snide remark to “create a level ground”, to present someone’s achievement in a neutral or negative light, so they won’t be regarded as being superior than the rest of society.

This fits with what we in Australia call “the tall poppy syndrome”.

Of course, this is not an attitude that is only found in Australia. And it’s not something new. Two thousand years ago, those who were challenged by Jesus, spoke about him in the same way. As we see in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, there were people who just couldn’t cope with the fact that Jesus was saying and doing amazing things. They delighted in finding fault in his teaching and practice.

You are Wrong Image“YOU ARE WRONG!”, his detractors said in their hearts, and vocally as well. They focused on some small things which might not have been 100 per cent in accord with the hallowed traditions of the time, in order to bring him into line, to deny him “superstar-status”, to make him ordinary, unworthy of any special attention.

I remember when I was in my early teens, my best friend, Roger, was multi-talented. He was very bright academically, a good sportsman, a good singer, a clever actor with a very witty command of English. Everyone liked Roger, but I saw myself as being inferior to him, and I resented being known as “Roger’s mate”. I never publicly discredited him, even though I was envious of his accolades. Then one day I believe God spoke to me. I imagined him shaking his head as he said, “Don’t put your friend down in your heart! Rather, rejoice that you have such a terrific person as your mate!”

That was a turning point for me. Our friendship deepened, strengthened and became life-long.

How different things would have been in Israel 2000 years ago, if the detractors of Jesus didn’t react to him by saying, “YOU ARE WRONG!”. By doing so, they caused Jesus to say the same to them.  If they had rather rejoiced in his presence among them, and pondered his words, maybe they would have become friends.

Let’s allow those around us who have different gifts and who see things differently to shine and reflect their God-given talents in our communities. And rather than saying, “YOU ARE WRONG!”, when a different opinion is expressed, maybe an expression like, “I am not sure about that”, would be more appropriate.

I love that old piece of wisdom which draws attention to the fact that when someone points in an accusatory fashion at another, they are pointing with one finger at the other person, while four fingers are pointing back at them.

Gospels speak in different ways to different people. Let’s allow today’s Gospel to suggest ways of thinking differently, ways of being open and unjudgmental. When tempted to say, “YOU ARE WRONG!”, let’s remember that most of us are wrong some of the time!