A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 21:23-27
23 When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
25 Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’
26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.”
27 So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Reflection: The Authority of Jesus
Although Jesus was not a scribe or an elder of a community, he taught everywhere with great authority that His listeners were always amazed (Matthew 7:28-29). He was not a product of any particular school so the chief priests and elders wondered who gave Him the authority to teach. Jesus as the Son of the Living God refused to tell them the obvious. Indeed, if these religious authorities of His time cannot even see the power of God in Him, it is needless to explain to them who Jesus was.
In many passages of the scripture, Jesus dealt with the hypocrisy of the scribes, Pharisees and other religious leaders. He pointed out their blindness and their shallow interpretation of the law. Moreover, He antagonized them with His counter-arguments about authentic worship which is compassion and humility.
There are no gray areas about Jesus. You either believe in Him as the Son of God or take Him as a fool or even a demon as C. S. Lewis, the British theologian, would say. He does not have coercive power that can force people to bow down to Him. Only His words and deeds can speak for His authority.
Once again, we are invited to believe in Jesus and accept Him as our savior. His authority comes from no less than His Father and our Father in Heaven. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Him. May this season of Advent be our opportunity to make His way straight through repentance and conversion.