Christ came to teach but not engage in a battle of wills. That is why when (as in today’s gospel) the chief priests and elders quizzed Him with evil intent, He replied not with an answer but a question. He was not however playing a political game.
Our Lord would answer sincere questions but those who asked with cynicism or with evil intent (like entrapment) He would answer with a question they could not answer. This ‘question they could not answer’ would reveal their evil intent and that they were not genuinely seeking the truth. The problem for these chief priests and elders was that they were spiritually blind. And as with physical blindness there is no point in showing the blind man light because he cannot see it.
Perhaps we might say, surely the Lord wanted them to be saved, wanted them to benefit from the light? Indeed it is so. God ‘desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4). However spiritual blindness arises from the human will. In our choice to sin we choose darkness, and unless we choose to repent, to turn away from darkness and seek the light, our hearts prevent us recognising the truth, even if it is proclaimed by the Person of God the Son!
Not every part of the Gospel is comfortable or easy to accept. Indeed men may prefer the darkness to the light (see John 1 and 1 John 1). The choice of rejecting the Gospel, shows our spiritual blindness, because we reject the source of the Gospel, we reject God. This was the problem of the chief priests and elders and until they repented they could not have the light.
The Christian is called to dialogue with the world but we can only go so far until people are willing to leave the darkness and seek the light. That is why prayer is so important in this missionary task. Let us remember in this Advent season that one of our greatest callings is to pray for the spiritually blind that through repentance they may come to the spiritual light, even Jesus Christ our Saviour.