The readings today introduce us to two religious groups that could not be farther apart. The first reading introduces us to the Sadducees. The Gospel turns our thoughts to Fundamentalist believers whose religion is contained in John, 3:16.
To look at the tangled history of the Sadducees we must go back to 967 B.C.. King David was dying, and although he had promised the throne to Solomon, a stronger son named Adonijah was acting as though he were already king.
David told the priest Zadoc to ignore Adonijah’s bullies, and to anoint Solomon king. Believing he would be killed for doing it, out of reverence for King David Zadoc anointed Solomon king. Surprisingly, the whole nation got behind Solomon, and Zadoc became a hero. They chose Zadoc to be their high priest; and from that time on, for the next eight hundred years, only a direct descendent of Zadoc could be chosen as high priest.
Then, in 152 B.C. there was no worthwhile man among Zadoc’s descendents, and so the post was given to a national hero. He was Jonathan, the brother to Judas Maccabeus.
Although the nation welcomed Jonathan, the conservatives would not accept anyone who was not a descendent of Zadoc.
Now, Jonathan had a group of irreligious young friends who were very good businessmen. With their buddy Jonathan taking over as high priest, they used his position to gain valuable government contracts for themselves.
When conservatives complained about Jonathan not being a descendent of Zadoc they had an answer: “Zadoc was the high priest back then, now Jonathan is the high priest. So, if not by blood, at least by his sharing the same office, Jonathan is Zadoc’s descendent.”
They went further. They said, “Since Jonathan is the new Zadoc, we, his buddies, are the Zadoc-ites.” In time that title Zadoc-ites, morphed into the word Sadducees.
The Sadducees, who were rich from profits from the temple, did not want Jesus and the Apostles rocking their dream boat.
From the other extreme of religious personalities today’s reading have us looking at the people who live by John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
For years a man who swore by John 3:16 showed up a every sporting event, getting himself in front of the television cameras. The TV cameramen hated him, but he was clever about getting into their view. His hair was dyed eight colors, and he held high that sign: “John, 3:16”
I had a Baptist boy in my Religion classes at St. Paul’s. He kept giving me John, 316 as his answer to questions on Religion tests.
Q. Why did God prefer David to Saul?
A. John, 3:16.