Dec 16 (Mt 21:23-27)

Once, a preacher was speaking the Word of God to a great crowd.

As was his practice, he was concentrating more on the content of his message and of its effect upon the hearts of people, for transformation…

… rather than the precise literary form of it.

Among his audience, was seated a certain fussy gentleman.

>> He had been known for making extremely critical remarks and comments.

At the end of the prayer service, this person went up to the preacher and said:

“By the way, I noticed that you made eleven mistakes of grammar in your sermon.”

“Very likely,” replied the preacher, very coolly, “I don’t doubt it for a minute.

My early education was faulty. I often wished that I had received more schooling.

>> But I am using all the grammar I know in the service of Christ.

How is it with you?”

Well, we don’t know how did the fussy gentleman react to this bold and true reply of the preacher.

(Hopefully, he went home and read a chapter of the Bible and prayed for a humbler heart…

… rather than just revising his skills of grammar!)

When the heart is closed to God’s spirit, the focus dwells only external and peripheral factors…

>> The heart gets closed to spiritual appreciation…

>> The mind remains curious only for rhetorical arguments!

The Gospel of the Day presents such a critically harsh and uncharitably closed attitude of the chief priests and scribes and elders towards the person and ministry of Jesus.

This is expressed in their volatile question to Jesus:

“By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?” (Mt 21: 23)

The context of today’s Gospel is the presence of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem.

Chapter 21 of St Mathew’s Gospel has a progressive sequence…

1. The entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21: 1-11)

2. The ‘re-storation’ in the Temple at Jerusalem and indignant behaviour of authorities(Mt 21:12-16)

3. The entry to Bethany and cursing of the fig tree (Mt 21: 17-22)

4. The ‘re-entry’ to the Temple at Jerusalem and questioning of Jesus by the authorities (Mt 21: 23-27)

>> The popularity of Jesus was on the rise…

… He had a rousing welcome to the city of Jerusalem

>>  The impact of Jesus was also on the rise…

… He had performed a daring cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple

These factors had greatly disturbed the religious leaders.

>> In Jesus, they perceived a threat.

… a threat to their attitude of subjugating people to their yoke than to service of God

>> In Jesus, they sensed a danger.

… a danger to their personal wishes and agenda of having a monopoly over religion

>> In Jesus, they identified a menace.

… a menace to their comfort-rendering style of spirituality and way of life.

And so, they – the chief priests and scribes and the elders – sought to put Jesus to the task and questioned His authority on doing such deeds and performing such actions.

>> Their eyes were closed to see the goodness of the Lord

>> Their hearts had become clogged to examine their own maligned conscience

>> Their lives were rendered blocked to be willing to make necessary changes for the good.

Instead…

… they only found fault with the Lord

… they only become critical of the ways of the Lord

When the heart is closed to God’s spirit, the focus dwells only external and peripheral factors…

>> The heart gets closed to spiritual appreciation…

>> The mind remains curious only for rhetorical arguments!

Is such an attitude prevalent among us also?

>> A mentality of harshly criticising…

>> A tendency to inhumanly  condemn…

… without any consideration to humanness or acceptance or self-examination etc.

May we be able to root out all such pessimistic mind-sets and focus instead of self-growth in holiness and humility.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are no galley-slaves in the royal vessel of divine love.

>> Every man works his oar voluntarily!”

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