Jesus is accused of serving the devil – of serving and doing evil by evil’s power. Anyone who has read the Gospels knows that Jesus is only about good – healing, curing, forgiving, including, feeding, and preaching hope and good news. At the same time, we shouldn’t be too surprised about the accusations that are coming from some of the crowd. In fact we live in a time when making accusations and calling people names is more the norm than the exception. Because we live in a time of instant communication and a twenty-four hour news cycle, this kind of accusation is something most people hear almost every day.
It is all too easy to simply ignore the vitriolic kind of language which is spewed forth on a daily basis by the media. As the saying goes, “Bad news sells newspapers.” Even though newspapers will soon be a thing of the past, there will always be a conduit through which people receive bad news.
Both the reading from the Prophet Joel and the Gospel for today are warnings. Joel announces that a day of darkness and gloom, a day of ruin is coming. Joel is usually regarded as a post-exilic prophet so he is speaking to the people who returned from slavery in Assyria. Joel’s warnings, therefore, are about a different kind of disaster than the one that they have experienced recently. He is concerned that a drought and an ensuing infestation of locusts have devastated the crops of Judah. He sees this as a sign that the people have fallen into their old ways.
Jesus counters the accusations made against him by warning the crowd that a worse calamity may befall them if they impede the reign of God in their midst. Of course, because we have the blessing of hindsight, we know that that is exactly what they do. However, by rising from the dead, Jesus has firmly established God’s reign for those who place their faith in God. We are God’s chosen people, and we embrace the Good News rather than the bad.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator