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Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from the Gospel of Mark 11:27-33.

By what authority – Mark 11:27-33

They returned once more to Jerusalem.

As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?”

Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘[Then] why did you not believe him?’

But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet.

So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

In this passage we find the hostility towards Jesus mounting and it came mainly from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders.

The Pharisees and the Herodians who manifested an unfriendly disposition towards Jesus sent some learned men who tried to ensnare him in his speech.

This instance of Jesus being questioned about his authority appears in Matthew 21:23–27 and in Luke 20:1–8 too.

Here are three other of the many instances where the elders of the temple questioned him:

#1 – Paying Taxes to the Emperor – Mark 12:13-17

They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to him to ensnare him in his speech.

They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.

You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?”

Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.”

They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”

So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

They were utterly amazed at him.

#2 – The Question about the Resurrection – Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and put this question to him, saying,

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’

Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants.

So the second married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise.

And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died.

At the resurrection [when they arise] whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God?

When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven.

As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, [the] God of Isaac, and [the] God of Jacob’?

He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.

#3 – The Greatest Commandment – Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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