Monday of the Third Week of Advent
Memorial Feast: Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (1542-+1591) Patron Saint of the Contemplative Life and Mystical Theology
Book of Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a; Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Matthew 21:23-27
Jesus Walks in the Portico of Solomon by James Tissot, circa 1886-1896
In today's Gospel narrative, the chief priest and elders, essentially the enemies of Jesus, question His authority to teach and heal. They are asking to see His credentials. Do you have a Ph.D. in Philosophy? No, not really! All of us know that He has been sent by His Father and is much more than all of the prophets that have come before Him. Jesus' action, including His recent cleansing of the Temple, is done in His Father's name. Thereby lies His authority!
They question His authority because they want not only to embarrass Him but, more importantly, to jeopardize His entire mission. Our Lord turns the table by countering their question with another question; "Where was John's baptism from?" If they respond "from God," they alienate those who believe in Saint John the Baptist. If they respond "from man," they pass sentence on themselves for having rejected John. What they do is respond with the weakest answer of all, "We do not know." Even if Jesus tells them the truth, they still won't believe in Him. Saint John Chrysostom (347-+407) said, "Even if He had told them, it would have profited nothing because the darkened will cannot perceive the things that are of the light. For we ought to instruct the one who enquires, but the one who is only testing we ought to overthrow by a stroke of reasoning, and not to reveal to him the power of the mystery."
The authority of Jesus came from the inner richness and authenticity of His life as He the perfect embodiment of the Father's love to save His children. This is what we call moral authority. Jesus was not a demagogue or a politician trying to win votes. He led by example. The greatest must be the servant of all, and so he went on teaching, preaching, and living what He proclaimed.
Question of the Day: How do you pray for yourself and others with the authority of Jesus as your guide?
Prayer: "I am not alone because Jesus is with me, and with Him, I fear nothing." Amen. (Diary of Saint Faustina)