Readings: Jude 1:17,20-25, Ps. 63:2-6, Mark 11:27-33

“The scribes and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mark 11:27-28)

In today’s Gospel passage, the chief priests, elders and scribes questioned Jesus for cleansing the Temple: “By what authority are you doing this?” When a society sinks deep into evil, people find it difficult to distinguish right from wrong. We can become used to a particular odour that we no longer think is repugnant, used to darkness that we attack the light. The Jews had become so used to the worship of money in the Temple that they no longer felt it was wrong to turn God’s house into a den of robbers. When Jesus cleansed the Temple to restore sanity, they questioned his authority even though they knew Jesus had done the right thing. This brings us to our lessons:

1. You Are A Light; Do Not Be Intimidated By Darkness: By cleansing the Temple, Jesus teaches us that when we see evil happening, and we refuse to do anything about it (for fear of being outnumbered), we become part of that evil. The irony of life is that people will hardly attack you for doing something bad, but when you do what is right, they attack you. No wonder Jesus said that we do not belong to this world. (cf. John 15:19). Even before cleansing the Temple, Jesus knew the chief priests would never forgive him for spoiling their business (robbing people; taking advantage of their faith), but He went ahead because He was not afraid to die: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, cf. Luke 12:4-5). It is better to offend people by doing what is right than to offend God by consenting to evil. God knows how to fight for his children.

2. You Cannot Be Friends With Everybody: In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul said: “Agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11). However, living in peace with everyone does not translate to condoning evil. St. Jude writes in today’s First Reading: “In the last time, there will be scoffers, following their ungodly passions. These set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit… convince some who doubt; save some by snatching them out of the fire. Some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:18-23). Make efforts to save as many people from darkness but do not get drowned in the process. It is okay to have enemies. The good news is that a light bulb may look small (compared to the size of the room), but it is enough to brighten the entire room. Great people often maintain a small circle of friends, and the world shakes when they speak. Stop trying to be friends with everybody.

3. You Don’t Need A Certificate To Be Good: The chief priests asked Jesus who authorised him to cleanse the Temple. They did not know they were talking to God. Does anyone need permission to clean his house? Jesus had performed several signs and wonders that only God could do, yet none could convince them that He was God; their hearts were hardened. If you are waiting for anyone to give you approval before doing what is right (what God has put into your heart to do), you will wait forever. Since evil people are so bold in doing evil, why should we be timid when doing what is right? St. Paul would say: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord. (2 Timothy 1:7-8).

4. St. Justin the Martyr: He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker of truth and studied many systems of philosophy before being led from Platonism to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known and travelled from place to place, proclaiming the gospel. In 151, he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived: it can be found in today’s Office of Readings. Like Justin, we must not fear dying to defend our beliefs.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, save us from the fear of people. Give us the courage to do what is right at all times. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God’s abundant blessings be upon us all. (Saint Justin, Martyr. Bible Study: Jude 1:17,20-25, Ps. 63:2-6, Mark 11:27-33).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu