Daily Gospel Reflection – Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Bishop Robert Barron
October 19, 2023
Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Gospel: Lk 11:47-54
The Lord said: "Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute' in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter." When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees make Jesus a scapegoat: they “began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.”
René Girard, the great Franco-American philosopher and social commentator, is best known for his speculations on what he called the scapegoating mechanism. Sadly, Girard maintained, most human communities are predicated upon this dysfunctional and deeply destructive instinct. Roughly speaking, it unfolds as follows. When tensions arise in a group, people commence to cast about for a scapegoat, for someone or some group to blame. Deeply attractive, even addictive, the scapegoating move rapidly attracts a crowd, which in short order becomes a mob.
In their common hatred of the victim, the blamers feel an ersatz sense of togetherness. Filled with the excitement born of self-righteousness, the mob then endeavors to isolate and finally eliminate the scapegoat, convinced that this will restore order to their roiled society. The Gospels appreciated the Girardian dynamic long before Girard.