12 December   
Mt 21:23-27

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard Jn as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

St Jerome (c. 340 - 420) wrote, “The Lord could have confuted them…by a simple answer, but He put a question to them of such skilful contrivance, that they must be condemned either by their silence or their knowledge.”  And St John Chrysostom (347 - 407) added, “Even if He had told them, it would have profited nothing, because the darkened will cannot perceive the things that are of the light.  For we ought to instruct the one who enquires; but the one who is only testing we ought to overthrow by a stroke of reasoning, and not to reveal to him the power of the mystery.” 

It is a very wonderful thing to read the insights of those who lived many centuries before us.  We can do so because of the scholarship of countless people through the centuries.  We are never alone when we read the Scriptures; they are a sacred heritage passed on to God's people of every century.  It is sometimes said that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.  Often, I think, we only cling to their coat-tails.  I love to quote them, because it makes clear that we stand in an ancient tradition and the insights of all the ages are ours to have, as far as we are capable of them.  T.S. Eliot wrote, “There never was a time, I believe, when those who read at all read so many more books by living authors than books by dead authors; there never was a time so completely parochial, so shut off from the past.”



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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