Saturday's Gospel + commentary
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The following is today’s Gospel reading from Mass. Below it is an excerpt of a commentary from Wikipedia; to view the full text, please click on the title of this post.
Gospel - Mk 11:27-33
Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem.
As he was walking in the temple area,
the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders
approached him and 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 shall ask you one question.
Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–they feared the crowd,
for they all thought John really was a prophet.
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
Then Jesus said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
The priests, teachers, elders, Pharisees and Herodians are described as coming up to Jesus, and questioning his authority to do the things that he is doing; John makes it clear that they are referring to his actions in scattering the livestock and overturning the tables of the moneychangers, but the synoptics imply that it is in reference to his teaching. The synoptics recount that Jesus tricked them by calling into question their own authority or allegiances.
First he asks his opponents to say whether John the Baptist’s authority to baptize was divine or human. They do not believe John had divine authority, and so wanting to answer that he was just baptizing as a man—but this would run into conflict with the crowd, who believe in John's divine authority. Since the Temple authorities care so much about what the crowd thinks, this leaves them unable to answer truthfully, and so they are forced to claim that they don't know, exposing their divided loyalties and making them look incompetent. Jesus responds that in consequence he won't tell them what his authority is.