Let me draw your attention to one idea from each of today’s readings. In the first reading we see Paul using a clever trick, and that makes us feel that there are times when it pays to be tricky.
When Paul arrived back in Jerusalem after a long absence, some conservative Jews, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the bystanders to lay hold of this man who was saying it was right for Jews to mingle with unclean Gentiles. The minor riot that arose had the temple guards bringing him before a full assembly of the Sanhedrin.
Paul displayed his cleverness there. He saw that his accusers were divided between Pharisees and Sadducees, and he knew that they liked arguing over life after death. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, while the Sadducees opposed the idea. To get attention diverted from himself, Paul loudly announced that he was being detained because as a life-long Pharisee he believed in the resurrection of the dead. This put the Pharisees on his side, bringing the trial to an end.
Let me tell one of my old Korean stories about being tricky. The mayor of our town held that a former pastor has deeded a church lot over to the city. That priest had been shot by Commies, and there was no paper work on the transfer. I wanted to give them the lot, but the bishop told me, “Hang on to that lot with your life.”
About then I got 600 bags of American flour for distribution to the five townships in our parish. With the nuns’ help I put up a big sign that told our hungry townsfolk that the flour would go to the other four townships, but not to ours, because of a legal dispute between the church and the town hall. That had the people shouting down the mayor, and it had him coming up to me, saying, “That lot belongs to the church. I never believed that story about it having been deeded to the city.”
The point in the Gospel that pleases me is the final prayer Jesus offered for his followers. He prayed for those surrounding him, then, he said, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” When he said that he was looking over the heads of the Apostles, and he was seeing us afar off, and he was including us in his prayer.