Drop Keys of Freedom: A Reflection on Luke 20:27-40

Below is a reflection inspired by Saturday’s gospel reading, which can be found here. I shared it at a Celebration of the Word (with Distribution of Holy Communion) that I held as part of my Lay Leadership of Prayer and Preaching class. The whole service had to be video-taped and I have to review it with my professor. Guess who is not looking forward to that part? 😉 
 
golden-key
 

The small person
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners. (Read x2)
– Hafiz

The Sadducees in this story are those small people. They are trying to trap Jesus. Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection. They were a conservative group of Jews whose only source of authority was the Torah, the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible, and in that, they saw no evidence of the resurrection. Their worldview was black and white. Their appeal to authority secure. Their confidence, unwavering. The Sadducees were a rather well-off bunch comparatively; they had no need to hope for a resurrection in the same way the majority of the impoverished Jews did.  So they went up to Jesus with their “question.”

While there is some debate in the academic world about whether there are stupid questions or not, there are certainly wrong questions, questions that trap and build cages, questions that are dead-ends. Questions that presume the answers. These questions steal freedom and provide an answer of condemnation in their very asking. The Sadducees ask a wrong question.  It is a ridiculous example based on Jewish law meant to ensnare Jesus.  They want Jesus to crumble and they want to feel secure on their own high horse. They try to build a cage.

And Jesus replies dropping keys of freedom. He meets them right where they are, in all their hubris, appealing only to their source of authority, the Torah, and proclaims that God is the God of the living.  Jesus sees the cage they are building and instead declares freedom and hope for them and for others.  The Sadducees, in their Temple of comfort and luxury, are removed from the suffering of everyday life and their message via their question tries to heap more despair on an already suffering people, but Jesus, who suffers with the people, offers a message of hope and resurrection when it feels like darkness, despair, and division might be the end of the story.

Do we ask the wrong questions? Questions meant to trap and cage? Questions meant to justify our own righteousness? Questions where we’re actually asserting our answer? Often, these questions are judgments in the silence of our minds. We look at a disheveled homeless person on the street and we wonder why they don’t get a job instead of reminding ourselves that we know nothing about the circumstances that led them to this place.  We hear a person goes to Latin Mass or to school at CTU, or CUA, or….. the list goes on and we make assumptive judgments about their “orthodoxy.” Even of the same religion, we assume and then we box each other in.  Or a parent yells at their struggling teenager walking in a few minutes late, “Where have you been?!?!”  Or maybe in our angst and grief, we cry out to God, “what did I do wrong that my loved one had to die?” Or on another dangerous and irrelevant level, we say things like, “What was she wearing?” after an assault is alleged.

These are all variations of the wrong question.

Jesus upends our wrong, dead-end questions and answers with mercy and love and promises of new life to come. He speaks hope for those caught in darkness. He reminds us God is the God of the living, not the dead. These dead-end questions show that life has nothing to do with whether we’re still breathing.

We are alive when we ask questions and don’t presume to know the answer. We drop keys of freedom when we manage our judgments in our mind when we begin to condemn somebody instead of hearing their story. We speak freedom and life when we express genuine interest in the various expressions of our Catholic faith without crying heresy at the first sign of difference. We open room for breathing and surviving our own grief when we move from questions that condemn ourselves in our suffering to words that simply say, “God, I don’t understand and I’m hurting.” What if our first question to our teenagers was “Are you okay?” when they walk in the door, leaving space for their hearts to feel heard. And what if we asked different questions about gender and the role our culture has to play in violations of women instead of considering asking “what was she wearing.”

There may or may not be stupid questions in class, but there are wrong questions in life. Let’s drop keys of freedom by asking questions that are open-ended and give life instead of presumptuous ones meant to condemn. And let’s instead choose to be like Jesus and rather than taking these dead-end questions as personal attacks, turn them around to teach about the infinite mercy and love of our God.

The small person
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

 

 

 

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