MAY 29. Ord. Time. (B) Wk.8. Sat. Mk.11 27-33
Jesus and his disciples came to Jerusalem, and as Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? Or who gave you authority to do these things?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you a question, only one; answer me and I will tell you my authority for acting like this. John’s baptism: did it come from heaven, or from man? Answer me that.’ And they argued it out this way among themselves: ‘If we say from heaven, he will say, “Then why did you refuse to believe him?” But dare we say from man?’ – they had the people to fear, for everyone held that John was a real prophet. So their reply to Jesus was, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.’
This reading highlights the beauty of the gift of Faith. The chief priests, scribes and elders were unable to believe that Jesus was the Son of God; - a situation that is very common to this day; - and Christians need to give thanks for the wonderful gift of their Faith!
But this “attitude” of the chief priests to the preaching; - and miracles; - of Christ was clearly not common, as is demonstrated by the large numbers of followers who accepted his teachings, solely on the evidence of his miracles.
So why were the community leaders unable to accept what Christ was preaching; - given that they too had seen his miracles? The answer of course is that they were being protective of their own position as “teachers”, and so they did not want any preaching that conflicted with their own man-made teachings and “Laws!”
The multitude that chose to follow Jesus, and believe, did so on the other hand because they were searching for the Truth, and Christ had been able to demonstrate, via his miracles, that he was God, and was speaking the Truth.
They had the gift of Faith! The priests and scribes chose not to believe, as to do so would have required amendment of their own laws and teachings; - and acknowledgement of divine law!
And is this not still the case today, where people do not believe; - because to do so would involve acknowledgement of Christ’s divinity, and the need to follow his divine teachings?
Christ, in responding to their question, highlighted this same truth. He questioned what they thought of the teachings of John the Baptist; - was it divine; - or was it human?
This immediately focused on the difference between the multitudes who believed, and the leaders who did not believe; - and highlighted the different responses; - and motives.
The leaders, in refusing to answer if John’s teachings were from God, were acknowledging the majority of the people sought John’s Baptism, because they believed in his teachings.
So, in his reply Jesus had really turned the question back on the chief priests and elders; - he was saying “if all of the people believed; - why did you not believe?” and that was a question they could not, or would not answer.
And this is the question that unbelievers are still faced with today. In light of the Resurrection, and the Ascension, and the miracles in the Gospels; - why do you not believe?
Gospel Acclamation cf.Col3:16,17
Give thanks to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord,
and may the fullness of his message live within you.