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Green Leather

June 3

FOCUS:  The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Green Leather


00:00 / 02:56

The first reading for today comes from the end of the book of Sirach, also called the Wisdom of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus, from the Latin for ‘church’ or ‘church book’. The passage is essentially an addendum to the book and takes the form of a psalm-like prayer of praise for wisdom.

Ben Sira recounts his quest for wisdom from his youth, in obedience to the law, in prayer, in the temple, on the ‘level path’. Eventually, he received ‘great instruction’. For this he gives praise and thanks to his teacher, implicitly, the Lord.

The Gospel, from Mark, takes place on Jesus’ third day in Jerusalem, shortly after His cleansing of the Temple. Because He had revealed Himself to be a threat to their authority and power, Temple officials; priests, scribes and elders, are now actively trying to entrap Jesus in order to at least discredit Him and ultimately worse. They must, however, proceed cautiously as the common people, ‘the crowd’ are enthused and intrigued in His message and unpredictably supportive of Him.

Rabbis and Jewish teachers invariably cited well known, respected and preferably ancient authorities to support their teachings. It had not gone without notice that Jesus frequently would amend accepted teachings by His own authority, so the temple authorities take the opportunity to question Him on this very point. Jesus knew they denied the prophetic office of John the Baptist, but many common people had believed and followed him, and, because John had identified Jesus as the promised Messiah, Jesus conditions His response on forcing the temple class to make a clear statement regarding John, and therefor, implicitly about Jesus Himself. They fear the crowds more than they respect the truth, and so refuse to commit.

The truth of Jesus’ authority is asserted in John’s identification and Jesus feels no need to demonstrate further to a group that cannot recognize the truth when they are presented with it.

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