A Salute to the Second Bananas!

John 7:45-47
The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also?”

The officers in today’s gospel belong to the vast unsung chorus of Street-Smart Second Fiddles, Sancho Panzas, Wry Lackeys of Evil Geniuses, and other second bananas from world literature.  One can almost see them, muttering about their masters’ folly as they gamely follow their stupid orders.  In this little vignette we see once again the comic (and tragic) effects of sheer human pride on the supposedly brainy elite that was bound and determined to kill Jesus.  The officers — plain soldiers and not theological Einsteins — know what they know:  this man Jesus speaks like no one ever spoke.  Any fool can see He’s not a bad man.  The Pharisees, in contrast, know what they don’t know: this man Jesus has to be leading people astray!  After all, he criticized us and no amount of common sense from reliable people can contradict that all-important fact.  And so, the Pharisees, in a monumental display of cleverness and cluelessness, conclude that if Jesus is winning over even the officers, why then He must be even more demonically clever than they ever dreamed.  It would all be farce if it weren’t tragic. And it would all be old tragedy if it didn’t still happen to us today.  This Lent, pray for the gift of vision and humility from the Holy Spirit so that you don’t make the Pharisee’s mistake of blind pride.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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    Pharisees were Levitical priests who took power and strangled the Word of God the Commandments given to Moses.  They used their position to gain homage and honor from men, their onlookers, their devotees, who came to them for advice and to be taught the Law, confess their sins and receive pennance, much like today what we Catholics do when we sin. They usurped their authority for worldy gain. They were only interested in worldy lusts.  They felt that because they were Priests, chosen of God, Leaders of the community, God would be with them, what a contrast.  Only in form but not from the heart. 

    But not all Pharisess and Scribes and the Sanhedrin were evil.  Those who practiced the Law and lived it were fearing God accordlingly and they had to put up with their power hungry counterparts.  Thus Joseph of Arimithea helped burry Jesus in his own sepulchure.

    Peace be with you