Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 11,27-33

They came to Jerusalem again, 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 act like this?' Jesus said to them, 'And I will ask you a question, just one; answer me and I will tell you my authority for acting like this. John's baptism, what was its origin, heavenly or human? Answer me that.' And they argued this way among themselves, 'If we say heavenly, he will say, "Then why did you refuse to believe him?" But dare we say human?' -- they had the people to fear, for everyone held that John had been 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.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It is the third time that Jesus enters Jerusalem and stops in the temple, which has now become the usual place he teaches. But the leaders of the people interrogate him about the source of the authority of his teaching: "By what authority are you doing these things?" Jesus had not received any permission from them to teach. He was a "lay person," in the sense that he did not belong to a priestly line. They were convinced that their authority was founded on the doctrine of Moses. But what was the foundation of Jesus' authority to chase the merchants out of the temple, to preach, and to heal? It was a central question. This question had already been raised in Nazareth when Jesus first preached. Both the inhabitants of Nazareth and the leaders of the people refused to allow Jesus to have any authority over them. But Jesus, using a typical rabbinic technique, responds to them with another question. He asks them about John the Baptist, whose preaching and work for repentance they knew. Jesus responds like this because he knows that his Word can only bear fruit if it falls on the soil of a clear and sincere heart. Those high priests, scribes, and elders could have answered truthfully. They say "we do not know" because they are afraid of being challenged by the crowd, which had great esteem for what the Baptist did and how he died at the hands of Herod. Jesus does not respond directly because his words would be frustrated and lost in hearts that are explicitly false and unwelcoming. Jesus' silence is indeed marked by the deafness of those who are not able and do not want to hear. The Word does not speak to those who are not prepared to welcome it with open hearts.