28May 28 May. Saturday, Week 8

1st Reading. Jude 17; 20-25

Persevere in God’s love, and welcome the mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ

My beloved, you must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. But build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Gospel: Mark 11:27-33

Jesus will explain his authority if others will state their judgment on John’s ministry

Again they came to Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? 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. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” – they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”


Honesty lets us grow

We need to be honest with others, open to correction and devoted to well-tested wisdom, or, like Jesus’ malicious questioners we will fail to recognize the offer of salvation, or fall into the trap of some early Christians, condemned in the Epistle of Jude. These followed a secret way of salvation which so emphasised the sublimity of the spirit that the body was allowed all kinds of immoral actions. Both Mark and Jude are tense with conflict about serious mistakes that would close our way to the fullness of life. Unless we recognize reality, dishonesty sets up a more formidable barrier to God’s presence with us than many of our worst sins might do. These can be forgiven by God’s infinite mercy, but only if we are honest enough to admit that we truly have sins to be forgiven. Jude deals ruggedly with this need for honest repentance, when he writes: “Correct those who are confused; the others you must rescue, snatching them from the fire.”

Jesus makes a similar demand, when some religious leaders felt that their monopoly of truth dispensed them from being honest and above board. To protect their status they had recourse to devious deception. In the early church, some people felt so spiritually elevated that they could ignore normal discipline in their lives, particularly in eating and carnal expressions of love. They were not honest enough to admit the integral unity between body and soul.

Jude attempts to point out that true wisdom has its source in “the prophetic words of the apostles,” and in “welcoming the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This wisdom is open for everyone of good will to seek and obtain. Even if it is a pure gift, God gives it freely. And as we walk this way towards true wisdom, we are gradually absorbed into the mystery beyond all others, the mystery of the Holy Trinity, or in Jude’s words, “praying in the Holy Spirit? persevering in the Father’s love, welcoming the mercy of Jesus Christ.” If we are honest, and pursue this journey with Jesus, ultimately he will answer every one of our questions.

By what authority?

Today’s gospel comes just after Jesus cleansed the temple, which was a very daring thing to do. There were people in charge of the temple and Jesus certainly had not been authorized by them to do what he did. The question the religious authorities responsible for the temple put to Jesus is very understandable, “What authority have you for acting like this? Who gave you this authority? This happened towards the end of Jesus’ public ministry. At the very beginning of his ministry, according to Mark, the ordinary people of Galilee were struck by the authority with which Jesus spoke and acted. Far from being disturbed by Jesus’ authority, as the religious leaders were, they were greatly impressed by it. They were all amazed, Mark tells us, and kept asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching, with authority.” Jesus spoke and acted with the authority of God. For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, it was a liberating authority. We all need an authority of some sort as a reference point in life. The real issue is who or what will we take as our authority. The gospels assure is that Jesus embodies the authentic authority of God, an authority that empowers us to become fully human and fully alive. [MH]

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