When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”
And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
I cannot imagine myself challenging Jesus’ teaching authority in my life as the chief priests and the elders of the people do in today’s gospel. How dare they! At least that’s the way I feel when I am immersed in the graces of Advent bolstered by the glistening lights, festive decorations, traditional Christmas carols, and even the gently falling snow outside my window on a cold December day. Ah, yes, my world is at peace and I am attentive to Jesus and his word and actions. Of course I am in tune with His authority.
What happens, however, when the lights are not glistening and the decorations do not appear all that festive to me and the Christmas carols seem endless and repetitive? My world is not in order. Most likely, I’m not managing my world very well. Possibly it is because it is my world — small, narrow, and too self-centered. What then of Jesus’s authority in my life? I tell myself “It’s not Jesus. It’s that person who is not reacting or performing as I wish. It’s that work that I have not been able to keep up with.
It’s the interruptions in my life which get in the way of being with Jesus and being attentive to him. In other words, as long as I am in control of “my”world and things are going my way, Jesus fits in quite well. Somehow or other, if I’m honest, I have fallen in with the chief priests and the elders in today’s gospel. I cannot acknowledge that Jesus, not I, is the Messiah! It is his world and I’m not the center of it.
But it does not have to be that way. In these final days of Advent I can take three minutes at noon and three minutes before I retire to see where Jesus has been active in my life in the last hours. It will be instructive to see how Jesus is in the interruptions of life, in the supposed difficult people, in the work that I am doing. Using today’s psalm response all I have to do is keep asking “Teach me your ways, O Lord!”
—Fr. John Libens, S.J. is superior of the 69 retired Jesuits living at Colombiere Center, Clarkston, Michigan. This Jesuit Community prays each day for the special intentions of those making prayer requests to www.jesuitprayer.org
Lord, you are the center of my life. I will always praise you. I will always serve you.
I will always keep you in my sight.
—Paul InwoodPlease share the Good Word with your friends!