Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection June 01, 2024


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R/. For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord, my God.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, giving thanks to god the Father through him.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus and the disciples came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

1.      In the gospel, wisdom is personified in Jesus. Jesus is the power of the wisdom of God. His wisdom and authority are divine. That is why he confounds and overcomes his opponents. It is this divine authority that preaches irresistibly and heals miraculously.

2.      But unfortunately the unbelieving Jews lack the gift of faith to see, appreciate, accept this divine grace and cooperate with it. They operate only with human intelligence and knowledge. They think only in human terms of power and authority that comes from positions and offices. They fail to see in Jesus one who embodies and personifies God’s own wisdom and spiritual authority.

3.      They were caught up with the mere letter of the law and did not see the spirit of it. Consequently, they could see Jesus only as the violator of the law and not the renovator and fulfiller of the law. They were worried so much as if so much bad was happening to the religion and the tradition. In the process, they could not rejoice over the immense good done to human persons and the religion itself.

4.      Certainly the tact and trickiness of Jesus is appreciable: he counters and silences the scribes and elders who question him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” He puts them a counter-question: “Answer me whether the baptism of John is from heaven or from men?”

5.      They will be caught either way: if they say, from heaven, then their unbelief will be exposed and blamed; if they say it is from men, then they will invite the ire and rage of the people who hold John to be a prophet. Therefore, they admit that they don’t know.

6.      Jesus tells them that he too will not tell them by what authority he does all that he does. But here, much more than this wise shrewdness of Jesus, what is exposed is the stubbornness, closed-mindedness and double standards of the unbelieving Jews and authorities.

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