The Lively, Intelligent Mind of Jesus

I know I’ve been very quiet — sorry about that — I am feverishly working on a deadlined-project and hope to be back to normal output in another day or so…if I survive.

In the midst of that project, though, I did manage to put together a little column for First Things. Something sort of fun, and sort of light, because there are only a few brain cells left:

A gift for wordplay is the sign of an active, engaged mind, and I always appreciate seeing evidence of Jesus’ vigorous intellect in the bits of affectionate, word-based and rather Semitic humor on display in scripture; I marvel at Jesus’ deft tongue. In Matthew, Chapter 14, Simon and Andrew—probably kvetching at each other as they cast their nets into the sea—needed only one phrase to drop their nets and follow him, and the phrase was a dandy: “Hey, you fishermen . . . follow me; I’ll make you fishers of men!”

I take the point of the women who prefer the more gender-neutral “I’ll make you fishers of persons” but he was addressing fisher men at the time, and the joke—which is delightful—doesn’t really work once it has been neutered. Good straight-men (or straight-persons) know never to step on the punchline.

Given that, I always envision Jesus throwing back his head in good-humored appreciation when—as we see in tomorrow’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel—a Canaanite woman bests him, answering his challenge with one of her own:

You can read the rest, here

About Elizabeth Scalia

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