December 14, 2020
First Reading Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17A
Gospel Matthew 21:23-27
Artwork by Savannah S. | Class of 2023
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is confronted by the chief priests, who ask him, "By what authority are you doing these things?” What things was Jesus doing that raised the ire of the chief priests? Jesus was performing miracles: healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry. This question from the chief priests is meant to trap Jesus as a blasphemer. If He tells the truth that His authority to work miracles comes from God, the chief priests will condemn him for blasphemy. Jesus knows this, but Jesus is truth incarnate. He could moralize His teachings or explain them away, but He doesn’t. He responds with a question of his own.
We might face similar temptations in our own lives. We might encounter a situation where it is just easier to tell a little lie or explain away something. We must avoid this temptation.
The result of telling the truth may not always make us more popular, but popularity is fleeting.
St. John of the Cross, whom we celebrate in today’s feast day, was a man who knew the value of standing up for the truth and the hardship that comes from doing so. St. John was a Carmelite priest who lived in the latter half of the sixteenth century. During his life, he worked to bring about reform in his own order so that its members would remain faithful and true to the teachings of Jesus.
Unfortunately, his efforts to reform the Carmelite order were not well-received, and those who opposed the reform conspired to imprison him in solitary confinement for nearly a year. In what was later termed a miraculous escape, St. John eventually eluded his captors and went on successfully to reform the Carmelites. So, today, we celebrate St. John of the Cross who was unafraid to stand up and speak the truth even if doing so resulted in persecution.
By Joseph Skillman