Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a
As Christmas rushes closer we are brought up short by the introduction of the mysterious prophet Balaam, son of Beor. What he has to say is first of all a blessing on the tribes of Israel. Balaam sees the future power and glory of the Davidic kings and more especially one king. He dimly foresees him, but he says that he will come as a star rising out of Jacob and as a staff rising from Israel. For many centuries the Israelite people thought that this prophecy was fulfilled in David who firmly established the kingdom. Yet God had a greater plan in mind, His Son, Jesus Christ. The gospel passage today presents us with Jesus coming into the temple and teaching with authority. His enemies challenge his right to teach and ask him, "By whose authority are you doing these things?’ Jesus confounds them by asking his own question about the authority of John’s baptism. When they refuse to answer, he does not answer them. As we look forward to Christmas we sense the power of Jesus’ coming into our world. He is a person with quiet authority. May we accept the gifts he brings, especially his message of hope and peace.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.