Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Two Disciples,
Painted by Robert Stadler,
Installation at l'église Saint Paul (quartier du Marais), Paris
Installation done in 2007
© Robert Stadler Art

Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Two Disciples,
Painted by Robert Stadler,
Installation at l'église Saint Paul (quartier du Marais), Paris
Installation done in 2007
© Robert Stadler Art

Gospel of 16 December 2019

The chief priests were asking questions

Matthew 21:23-27

Jesus had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?’ ‘And I’ replied Jesus ‘will ask you a question, only one; if you tell me the answer to it, I will then tell you my authority for acting like this. John’s baptism: where did it come from: heaven or man?’ And they argued it out this way among themselves, ‘If we say from heaven, he will retort, “Then why did you refuse to believe him?”; but if we say from man, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So their reply to Jesus was, ‘We do not know.’ And he retorted, ‘Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.’

Reflection on the Church Installation

The real question the chief priests and the elders of the people were asking was: Jesus, are you really the Messiah? They asked Jesus this question in an indirect way. How annoying… they should have just come out with the question and ask Him out straight. Anyway, the question is also directed at us especially in this time of Advent: do we really believe that Christ who will be born in 9 days’ time is the Messiah?

This is the central question in our Christian faith. And on Sundays when we say the Creed with the words ‘We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,  God from God, Light from Light,  true God from true God,  begotten, not made,  one in Being with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us men and for our salvation,  he came down from heaven’. Do we really believe these words deep in our hearts?

We see Jesus not engaging with the question, as the question wasn’t properly put to Him. He always wants us to be straight with Him. He doesn’t engage in futile discussions, so a genuine openness and directness is needed when we ask questions. Jesus wants us to be straight with Him, even when asking questions. Our artwork was an installation done by Robert Stadler at l'église Saint Paul (quartier du Marais) in Paris. Illuminated permanent balloons made up a question mark…

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