Fr Hugh’s Homily for 26th Sunday
Every so often we get a gospel that is not a story or parable but a set of sayings that the writer has put together. In today’s collection we have one of the hardest of those to understand. Cutting off hands and plucking out eyes. What is Jesus up to here? It is all to do with holiness. Who is holy? So let’s start with the Temple, which was the holiest of places for Jews, where God was most present to his people. It was a massive building for the time with high walls. Even today just the remaining base is high enough and the Temple rose up on top of that. When people travelled to it for the three major pilgrimages of the year from the different parts of Israel or further afield they were amazed by its grandeur. Compared to their villages and homes it really spoke to them of the power of God. But the Temple was a complicated place. At the heart of it was the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Then there was a series of courtyards through which you passed, and how far you could go depended on your state of holiness…..