Silence Is A Sign Of Death
Saturday: Eighth week of the Year May 28, 2016
Mark 11:27-33. Year I: Sirach 51:12-20; Psalm 19:8-11; Year II: Jude 17:20-25; Psalm 63:2-6.
This reading teaches us a very important lesson: Jesus cannot deal with people who refuse to enter into dialogue.
The “chief priests, scribes and elders” ask Jesus a legitimate question. He has just thrown out the merchants they allowed in the temple. They demand, “By what authority are you doing this?”
Jesus knows they are closed to the answer, so he tries to help them get in touch with their own hearts: “Was John’s baptism of divine origin, or was it merely human? Answer my question, and I will answer yours.”
They got in touch with their hearts, and fast. They realized, “If we say ‘divine,’ he will ask, ‘Then why did you not put faith in it?” But they knew that if they said, “Merely human,” the crowd might turn on them, because the people “all regarded John as a true prophet.” So they took the coward’s way, and knew with crystal clarity they were doing it: They answered, “We do not know.”
Jesus made them face the fact that they were insincere. In thinking how to answer him they didn’t ask what was true, or even what they themselves deeply thought was true. They were not looking for truth and never had been, even when listening to John. All they were trying to do was defend their position — their power, their prestige, the status quo of doctrine that called nothing of theirs into question. So they refused to discuss the issue.
And in response, so did Jesus. He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Every teacher and preacher in the Church who openly asks what authentic Catholic doctrine is meets the same opposition. Sometimes it is from authorities blindly defending the status quo. Sometimes from the perennial “Pharisee party” who cling to the simple and static religion of uncontextualized rules and unexamined catechism answers. If asked whether a rule, observed to the letter under particular circumstances, will “do good or evil” (3:4), they refuse to answer. They are not interested in the intention of the lawgiver or the mind of the Church. Nor do they want to know the source or limits or direction of the Church’s current teaching. Stagnancy serves their purpose and they cling to it. Even Jesus cannot talk to them.
The Good News is that eventually Jesus wins. At first the prophets are stoned. But eventually the “pilgrim Church” catches up with them.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Distinguish between the teaching of the Church and teaching in the Church.