The Gospel scene happened the day after Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds welcomed him and the chief priests and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching. These Temple leaders confronted Jesus as he was teaching and asked: by what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority. When Jesus entered Jerusalem the previous day, he was claiming to be the Messiah. This question asks him who gave him the right to claim himself as the Messiah. Jesus in return asked them a question about John’s baptism. John baptized without any authorization from the Temple leaders. In fact, John called on them to repent.
The chief priests and elders would not say because they were afraid of what Jesus would say or of what the people would do to them, so they just said we do not know. Fear prevented them from acknowledging the Truth. The First Reading shows us a prophet who could only speak the Truth, even if he was offered a large amount of money to curse Israel. Balaam identifies himself as the man whose eye is clear, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, but with eyes uncovered. Balaam speaks as he sees. He spoke blessings on God’s people.
The Psalm tells us: make me to know your ways, O Lord: teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. We need to know God’s Truth. If I want God to be my salvation, I need to let him: teach me his path, lead me in his Truth and teach me. God cannot save me if I continue to cling to my own opinions, go my own path, because my opinion leads me to lies and my path leads to destruction.
St John of the Cross is known to talk about the dark night of the soul. It is when God withdraws any feeling of emotion and the soul gets a sense of being abandoned by God. One of the great example of this is St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is said she did not experience any consolation from God for 50 years up to her death. Yet, the absence of consolation or the sense of God’s presence does not mean God has abandoned us. If we look into ourselves and honestly see we are not living in sin, this darkness of the soul is in fact, the light of God shining in our soul. The abundance of light blinds us rather than the absence of light. It is this fire that burns us of our imperfections so God can form us as he wishes and purify our love for him.
We celebrated Gaudete Sunday yesterday. It is supposed to be a season of joy. But joy is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is based on the Truth that God is present even if we do not sense it, even if we feel we have been abandoned. This Truth should give us comfort and bring joy that in the end, all these will end, and we shall see God face to face.
Lord, in the midst of this sense that you have abandoned me, let me examine myself honestly. Show me if I have rejected you in what way. And if not, then let this darkness be my joy. St John of the Cross, pray that I may learn how to let God burn my heart so my love for him may be purified.