Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 352: Jude 1:20-25. Psalm 63:2.3-4,5-6. Mark
Almost all of us have had some frustrations with those in authority. Jesus
taught his disciples how to use authority in a proper way, but that did not
reach or touch those who were against him and questioned his authority.
Today we have a letter that consists of only 25 lines under the name of the
Apostle Jude, one of the relatives ("brothers") of Jesus. The first part
of the letter deals with those who resist church and apostolic authority in
order to rationalize about their licentious and their sexual freedom. The
author turns to the example of Cain and other legends that surround the
book of Genesis to make his point. He cites some apocryphal literature as
well. We are only seeing the spiritual encouragment part of the letter in
our liturgy. It is good, however, that we look at Jude at least one day a
year and this is that day! Jude is advising his listeners to avoid those
free thinkers who leave aside all authority in order to be sexually free.
Our section that is read is very positive and prayerful and gives us the
true content of Jesus' authority: "Keep yourselves in the love of God; look
forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that leads to eternal
life." (v.21). We are under the loving authority of the Holy Spirit and
the Son of God, Jesus.
In the Gospel Jesus battles with those in authority through their positions
in religious ranking as interpreters of the Mosaic law and members of the
laws governing the Temple. They question Jesus about his authority and he
in turn questions them. The examples are striking as he offsets their
trick questions. Jesus is one who really understands the laws of the Old
Testament and has to be seen as a true intelligent person who has captured
the meaning of the Mosaic laws, their spirit and their freedom that they
give the believer. Jesus is a halakic Jew as John Meirer points out in his
fourth volume on the study of the historical Jesus. His interpretive
methods help us to be better believers and to respect all of the laws that
are found in the Torah. He has told us that he has come not to destroy even
one of the decorative signs that accompany the text of the Torah. He is not
literalist nor fundamentalist in the revelatory interpretation he gives us.
And, if we go back the beginning of Mark's Gospel we discover that his
authority is from God. "And they were astonished at his teaching; for he
was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Mark
1:22). Fr. Henry Wansbrough, O.S.B., has these important lines about
Jesus' authority for this early chapter of Mark:
"The authority of Jesus is one of the dominant impressions of his
personality given us by Mark. Later Jesus claims divine authority by
forgiving sins (2:10) and by claiming jurisdiction over the sabbath (2:28).
Here however his actions are not above those of a saintly Jewish teacher,
though the account sees them already as examples of messianic authority."
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