Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
“The great crowd heard this with delight.”
Today’s Gospel passage is as unusual as it is brief. The unusual nature of this passage of only three verses (or four sentences) is highlighted by the evangelist’s concluding observation that the “great crowd heard this with delight”. What is it about Jesus’ words that delights them?
We have a clue to Jesus’ aim in His initial question: “How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David?” Jesus’ subsequent words, then, seem a rebuke of the scribes. Likely, the members of the crowd were not fans of the scribes, so that Jesus’ rebuke allows the crowd to delight in what they wished they themselves could do.
But Jesus never rebukes without wanting those rebuked to turn instead to the Truth. Consider the content of Jesus’ rebuke. Jesus is rebuking what the scribes claim about the Christ. We know from the entire context of the Gospel that this claim is one basis by which Jewish leaders would put Jesus to death. Jesus indeed is the Christ. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
The delight of the crowd, then, is like the cheers of “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday. The crowd’s delight will be short-lived if this Christ who delights them today is tried tomorrow as a criminal. Perhaps, however, the rebuke that Jesus issues today would ultimately bear fruit in the conversion of a scribe towards faith in the Word made flesh.