Gospel for December 16, 2013, Monday

Posted at 12/16/13 5:47 AM

3rd Week of Advent

Psalter: Week 3

Ps 25:4–5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8–9
Teach me your ways, O Lord.

1st Reading: Num 24:2–7, 15–17a
He looked up and saw Israel camping, tribe by tribe; and the spirit of God came upon him and he uttered his song:
“Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God,
and beholds the vision of the Almighty,
in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled.
How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel!
Like valleys stretching far,
like gardens beside a stream,
like aloes planted by Yahweh,
like cedars beside the waters.
His buckets are overflowing and his seeds are always watered. His king becomes stronger than Agag, and his kingdom grows.
Then Balaam pronounced his oracle:
“Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer,
the one who hears the words of God,
who has knowledge from the Most High,
and sees the vision of the Almighty,
in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled.
I see a figure, but not really.
I behold him but not near.
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
he rises with a staff in his hand;
he shatters the forehead of Moab
and tears down all the sons of Sheth.

Gospel: Mt 21:23–27
Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to him and asked, “What authority have you to act like this? Who gave you authority to do all this?”
Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptize, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?”
They reasoned out among themselves, “If we reply that it was a work of God, he will say: Why, then, did you not believe him? And if we say: The baptism of John was merely something human, beware of the people; since all hold John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”
And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things.”

If the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the authorities saved their skin by not proclaiming the truth, Balaam stands as a study in contrast. Even when he was employed by Balak to curse the Israelites, Balaam stands by the truth that God revealed to him, and blesses the people of Israel. By doing so, he invites the anger of Balak and lays his life on the line. Jesus refuses to answer the question of his enemies, because they do not care for the truth and, therefore, do not deserve the truth about his authority.
Do I care for the truth and stand by it, even when it is inconvenient to do so? What do I care for: my security or God’s favor?

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