Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
May 29th, 2010

Tom Bannatine, S.J.

School of Nursing
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Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
[352] Jude 17, 20b-25
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6
Mark 11:27-33

There is a difference between failing to understand something and failing to admit that we do understand it.  If someone gave me a copy of Einstein's theory of relativity I'm sure that I would not be able to understand it.  But an eminent physicist who spends his life teaching about such things would be able to understand it well.  But what if he refused to admit that he understood it?  People would probably think that he was deceitful and lose respect for him.  The more public his refusal became, the more his reputation would suffer.  It seems to me that the leaders of the Jewish people who confronted Jesus were like that.  They were well schooled in the law and the prophets.  They knew all the prophecies that foretold the coming of the messiah.  And yet when they met Jesus, as they did on more than one occasion, they refused to recognize him as the messiah.  Difficulties such as Jesus being a Galilean rather than coming from Bethlehem of Judea could have been easily resolved by asking Jesus or any of his relatives where he was born.  We know that even in the time of Jesus other men would claim to be the messiah who were not.  The leaders of the people would naturally be on guard against such men and work to expose them as frauds.  But in the case of Jesus they seem to have begun with the assumption that Jesus was a fraud.  They did not try to verify his claims.  But even worse, they didn't believe the miracles they saw with their own eyes.  Rather they thought them a trick or some kind of evil magic.  

In today's gospel reading it is the day after the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem.  After spending the night outside the city, Jesus and his disciples return to the Temple.  Shortly after their arrival the Chief Priests and other leaders of the people come up to Jesus.  No doubt they had been told all about the actions of Jesus in cleansing the Temple.  It seems clear that they regard the upkeep of the Temple as their prerogative, and they aren't willing to have an outsider  like Jesus interfere with their authority.  

This was not the first encounter Jesus had with the Chief Priests and leaders of the people.  He had engaged them several times previously.  And each time they refused to believe what Our Lord told them.  They understand Jesus perfectly well, but in their pride and obstinacy they close their minds and their hearts to the words of Jesus.  On this occasion Jesus declines to prolong the dialogue with them.  The end of his public life here on earth is approaching and he has more work to do.  There are many other visitors to the Temple who will listen and really hear his words.

Not all the leaders of the people were as close minded as Annas and Caiaphas and their cohorts.  There were other influential men like Joseph of Arimathea and Zacchaeus who listened to the words of Jesus and believed in him.  And of course many of the people of Jerusalem did too.  The Christian Church at its very beginning included many Jewish people. I think the lesson of this gospel is that we today need to imitate the response of these people and avoid that of Annas and Caiaphas and their followers.  We are called to listen to, to believe in, and to follow Jesus.

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