Saturday, March 05, 2011

Answer Me

March 5, 2011
Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom. I became resolutely devoted to her-- the good I persistently strove for. I burned with desire for her, never turning back. I became preoccupied with her, never weary of extolling her. My hand opened her gate and I came to know her secrets. For her I purified my hands; in cleanness I attained to her. At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding such that I will never forsake her. Sirach 51:13,18-20

“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. Mark 11:30-32

Help us to seek your answers, not ours.

The mounting hostility toward Jesus came from the all the leaders in the temple. Their rejection of God's messengers – both John the Baptist and Jesus – meant that they would incur the divine judgment implied in and confirmed in the parable of the vineyard tenants that comes immediately after today’s reading in Mark’s Gospel.

That parable tells the story of the rejection by the workers of the representatives sent by the vineyard owner. In the end, the workers finally kill the owner’s son. That parable concludes with the famous passage: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Through this rhetorical test about John the Baptist and the parable of the vineyard tenants, Jesus has delayed the action by those who were seeking to arrest him, more because the church leaders feared the crowd reaction. Although they left him and went away, the confrontation would come to a head very shortly – as we realize our calendar is about to embark upon Lent in less than four days.

In reality, these church leaders were not seeking the kind of authentic wisdom and relationship with the Lord referred to in the first reading from the Book of Sirach. They had their own agenda and it was not the same as the Lord’s. They were seeking a more selfish, self-serving kind of instruction in order to meet their ends, not God’s purpose.

With Lent nearly upon us, it is time to turn over our agenda to God. What answers is Jesus asking of you today in your piety, study and action? Provide the answers he seeks rather than the answers you might prefer.