Pastor's Desk: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted 29th August 2015 in Pastor's Desk

In place of the Pastor’s Desk this week, we include the following extract from Intercom Magazine:

The Deep End - Dirty Hands

In Denys Arcand’s film Jesus of Montreal (1988), a group of actors stage a passion play, garnering praise in the process for their gritty, stripped down re-telling of the Jesus story. While their play casts doubt on the divinity of Jesus, their lives outside the drama begin to imitate his story. The lead actor, Daniel, is heralded by one of his fellow actors and gathers a group of actors/disciples. A cynical lawyer even tempts him with fame and fortune in a skyscraper ‘wilderness.’ Like Jesus, Daniel eats with those who have dirty hands. One actor dubs pornographic movies while another is having an affair with the local priest who, coincidentally, has hired the group to perform the passion.

Mark’s authorities miss the point of their ‘human’ traditions. Jesus offers a more radical way of thinking, which ultimately leads to his trial, death and glorification. For the Pharisees, Jesus is an impious lawbreaker. But Mark reminds his readers that the authorities have mistaken their own customs for God’s law. Arcand’s movie finds an apt allegory for this in Daniel’s motley crew of actors. While some might find Arcand’s replacing of Christianity with theatre disturbing, the parable, like all parables, reveals a truth. The Gospel plays with our boundaries. Those with dirty hands seem outside but it is the expected insiders who are ultimately rejected. Both Mark’s and Arcand’s stories end unresolved, to be continued in the lives of those who eat without washing.

Paul Clogher

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