To make sense of the gospel today, you need to see what has been happening earlier in chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel. At the beginning of the chapter Jesus and his disciples have made their triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the day that we now call Palm Sunday. He then proceeded to cleanse the temple, driving out the money changers and sellers. It is at this point that he is confronted by the scribes and chief priests who ask by whose authority this country-bumpkin from Galilee is acting like this?

Jesus, as the good unoffical Rabbi, responds by putting a question to them about John the baptist’s authority – from God or man? When they refuse to answer he then tells the story that is the Gospel today. Closely related to this passage is the utterly sublime hymn that forms the major part of our second reading today, taken from the letter of St Paul to the church in Philippi. The hymn called the Carmen Christi, is usually considered to pre-date the letter and thus is the earliest declaration of the church to this question of the authority of Jesus to act like this – ‘his state was divine.’

Play MP3
Recorded at SJV, 8.30am (9’23”)

At the end of Mass, it was announced that Bishop Peter has appointed me as assistant priest to the parish of St Paul’s Camden (Fr Michael Williams is the parish priest). Camden is the largest parish in NSW and the Diocese, and is growing rapidly with many young families. I will live in the presbytery in Camden; Fr Michael lives in Narellan. The appointment will take effect on 6 October 2011. At this stage there is no priest available to take my place here in the Lumen Christi Pastoral Region.