The first reading speaks of the Apostles getting into trouble with the Sadducees and with the party of the High Priest. On following days we will see those two groups joined by the Pharisees. Let's check back on the history of those three parties. For that we will need to go back to 967 B.C. when King David was dying.
David had sowed the seeds of sadness by taking many wives. Maacha, daughter of the king of Geshur, bore him Absalom who led a full scale revolt going him. And after Absalom's death, Maacha's second son. Adonijah, raised his own army, and began acting like David.s successor.
At that, Bashiba reproached David, asking why he was not keeping his promise of putting her son Solomon on the thrown. Then, David on his deathbed summoned the priest Zaddoc, ordering him to immediately consecrate Solomon king.
Zaddoc was sure if he anointed Solomon that Adonijah would immediately kill both him and Solomon, but out of loyalty to David he anointed Solomon king.
Surprisingly, the whole nation put up a shout of "Long live King Solomon," and Adonijah was forced to run for his life. Out of gratitude to Zaddoc, the people declared that their High Priests would always need to be direct descendants of Zaddoc.
For eight hundred years the people chose each High Priest from Zaddoc's descendants, but in 152 B.C. when the the only available descendent was terribly inadequate, the people chose Jonathan, the brother of their national hero Judah Maccabeus.
A third of the Jews were traditionalists who would not accept Jonathan. Half of those traditionalists left Jerusalem for good, becoming the Essenes who left us the Dad Sea scroll. The half of the traditionalists who stayed on called themselves "Pharisees," a name meaning "Separatists."
The men in Jonathan's family hung on to the role of High Priest down to Our Lord's time.
When Jonathan took over as high priest back in 152 B.C. a group of his buddies moved in to take over all the money interests connected with the temple. As a week joke, they called themselves descendants of Zadoc. They said something like this: "Zaddoc was high priest, and now Jonathan in his role as high priest is a descendent of Zaddoc. And we, as his party, can be called the new Zaddocites. That name morphed into Sadducees.
Both readings today present us with things for us to ponder. Three sentences from the first reading that catches our attention, are these.
“The author of life you put to death.”
“Repent . . that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment . . . until the times of universal restoration.”
“God has raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”
The risen Christ always greeted his followers by saying, “Peace be with you.”
In the opening paragraph of his Gospel, St. Luke tells us that for writing his Gospel, he had investigated everything anew. He had consulted with those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning.
We can picture him asking around Jerusalem, and how someone put him in touch with a man named Cleopas. On Easter Sunday, along with another disciple, he had been fleeing the city out of fear that the people who crucified Jesus might also be looking for his disciples.
Cleopas said, “Well, Luke, this stranger joined us, and he began asking us why we were hurrying from the city.”
Luke asked, “It was Jesus, wasn’t it? Why didn’t you know him?”
“It’s mysterious, but we didn’t recognize him even when we were telling him about Jesus. At first he acted like it was news to him, and he let us go on telling him about the women who went to the tomb at dawn without seeing Jesus. Then, scolding us, he said, “How slow of heart you are, ignoring all that the prophets had foretold.”
“When we asked him what things the prophets had foretold, he went on, quoting from all of them, identifying every prophesy fulfilled in him. I tell you, Luke, just listening to him had our hearts burning within us.”
“He acted as though he was going on, but we took his arms, pleading with him to stay on. He did, but when we recognized him in the breaking of the bread, he just disappeared. We turned, and we near flew back to Jerusalem. There the Apostles told us that they had seen the Lord.”
Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus, taking him for the gardener. And if that puzzles us, it should. The risen Christ is more than a puzzle. He is mystery, that which we will never be able to fully understand.
The risen Christ has gone beyond the physical Jesus who ate and slept. Paul, in the twelve letters he penned, was so aware of the difference that he never mentioned Jesus. He always related himself to the risen Christ, saying such things as, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
In speaking of this, I cannot pretend to know just how we are to relate to Christ; but my feeling is that we should not limit our addresses to him as just “Jesus,” with such hymns as “Jesus, Jesus, you are my God.” I feel I am doing better in reaching out to the mystery of Christ, knowing and loving him as he is now.