In response to the religious leaders' concern that Jesus was welcoming
and associating with clearly unreligious people, Jesus told stories
about God's attitude toward such wayward folk, as we find in Luke 15, from which this week's Gospel reading comes.
Our gospel lesson comes just after the story
of Jesus' first "sign": turning the gallons of water intended for
purification rites into the wine that reveals his glory. This week's
story features more contrast and conflict, this time centered on another
key Jewish institution: the temple.
Philip Pullman, British author of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, makes no attempt to disguise his distaste for Christianity. As one of his characters says, “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake.” But Pullman's depiction of Christianity is reductive.