The Gospel of St. Mark is the first Gospel. St. Matthew came later. Each of St. Matthew’s “books,” contains a discourse and narrative. His Gospel has a nativity, five discourses, and Jesus’ Passion. The discourses are the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5:3–7:27), the “Missionary Discourse,” (Matthew 10:5–42), the “Parable Discourse,” (Matthew 13:3–52), a “Church Order Discourse,” (Matthew 18:3–35), and an “Eschatological Discourse,” (Matthew 24:4–25:46).
In the Missionary discourse St. Matthew tells us, “If they called the master of the house the Baal of the Flies, how much more those of his household!” Before this point, the Gospel does not refer to Jesus as Baal of the Flies. Where does this come from? In reference to life lived every day, what does this mean? Why is it here?
One of the rules of good writing is that we tell people what we are going to say, we say it, and conclude by saying what we said. The Pharisee’s/Separate Ones, call Jesus the Baal of the Flies, the driver of the Honeywagon. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence.”
This presupposes a large time gap between the time of John the Baptist and now. John the Baptist had just sent two servants. St. Matthew tells us what he is going to say. In narrative writing we call this foreshadowing. St. Matthew tells us what he is going to say in chapter 12. St. Matthew writes his Gospel much later when we already know about the Separate Ones’ accusation against Jesus. St. Matthew warns his reader, the church leaders, and the missionaries, about being the Separate Ones, the Pharisees of our time.
St. Matthew presents us with Jesus’ discussion about John the Baptist. “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Those wearing fine clothing are in royal palaces.”
Jesus contrasts these people dressed in the royal robes, the Pharisees/ Separate Ones in Chapter 12. John the Baptist is a messy fellow. He wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. The Pharisees/Separate Ones are not messy.
The Pharisees/the Separate Ones put their napkins at the right place at the dinner table. They only sign documents with black pens. They use correct grammar, with periods, commas, and apostrophes, but not in titles. Their homes are whitewashed tombs, museums to cleanliness, sterility, and lifelessness. They are so busy looking for the fine points of grammar, they miss the content. As a result, the house is empty. They are so busy looking at the fine points of morality, they miss the Wonderful World out there.
“If I drive out demons by Baal of the flies, by whom do your own people drive them out?” The Rabbis drive them out too. What is the difference? When a poltergeist goes out of a person, it roams arid regions searching for rest, finding none. Upon returning home, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order.”
The Pharisee’s homes are empty, clean and in order. Every sentence and title has a verb, a subject, and a predicate. The napkins are in the proper place and the pens only write in black. The poltergeist returns with seven others. Life must be lived and it is messy. In every society where we find the super-clean, the super-wealthy, we find extreme poverty, crime, and grime. Life is a messy business, whether we like it or know it, or not.
Jesus tells the parable of the children in the square. “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance…’ John came neither eating nor drinking; they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking; they said, ‘He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of pro-tax people and failures.” Those kids with the dancing to the pipe are “ὀρχέομαι,” line dancing. In Jesus’ world, the community dances together. Jesus’ world includes dancing, alcohol, and good food while John the Baptist fasts. Whether or not we eat or drink is not important. Our choice of words is not important either. Grammarians get into that, not people interested in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 12:46-50 end the discourse chapter. Jesus asks someone informing him about his mother, “Who is my mother? Here are my mother and my brothers.” In essence, he disowns his mother and immediate family.
St. Luke and St. John present a brash Jesus. In Luke’s nativity, Jesus tells his mother, “Why were you looking for me? You did not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus tells his mother, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” Our Blessed Virgin tells the wedding servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus’ words do not slight Our Blessed Virgin in Matthew 12:46-50 either. Our Blessed Virgin was with Jesus when he died. We see a very dynamic, messy, family. John and Jesus are messy. They are about life. Messy is not so bad. Life is messy, but it sure can be fun.