And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?” 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, `From men,’ we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet.” So, they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)
When the prophet John the Baptist began to preach a message of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the religious leaders and rulers in Palestine resisted his word and persecuted him as well. Jesus met resistance, opposition, and fierce hostility from the religious rulers as well.
Why did the religious leaders oppose Jesus and reject his claim to divine authority? Their view of religion did not match with God’s word because their hearts were set on personal gain rather than truth and submission to God’s plan and design for their lives.
The scribes and the Pharisees prayed Psalm 25 often, asking the Lord to teach them his ways, but when he sought to teach them through St. John the Baptist or come to teach them in person, they rejected his teaching, his truth, his ways.
Each of us needs to examine our own attitude toward God’s prophecy. Are we responsive or resistant to the message God sends us?
Are you willing to take a stand for the truth, even when it might cost you personally because of opposition or disapproval from others? When we fear the disapproval or rejection of our friends, we are tempted to be evasive and to bluff our way to avoid confrontation or trouble.
That issue should be singular in our life. Are we following the way of Jesus or do we walk a crooked path? A path that we create to make ourselves comfortable when our words or actions might betray us. The hypocrisy of faith will be and is the deciding factor in our final judgement.
There can be no compromise with Jesus’ authority – he is Truth incarnate. The coming of God’s kingdom or reign on the earth inevitably leads to conflict – a conflict of allegiance to God’s will or my will, God’s justice or the world’s way of playing fair, God’s standard of absolute moral truth or truth relative to what I want to believe is good and useful for the time being.
One can not incite violence and be a follower of the way. One can’t speak and write evil and be a follower of the way. One can not ignore that each of us is a child of God and deserving of that respect and be a follower of the way. One cannot worship a secular figure and claim to be a follower of the way.
How do you respond to Jesus’ claim to be not only the Messiah, but the source of everlasting life and truth as well? Do you submit to his word and stake your life on the coming of his kingdom? Jesus promises that those who seek to live according to God’s truth will find true joy, freedom, and happiness both now and forever.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let your light shine in my heart and in my mind that I may grow in understanding the truth of your word and find joy and freedom in living according to it.”
The prayer of Advent should be asking him to convert in us whatever is resistant to receiving his prophetic words and sharing them and to transform us into the disciples, prophets and divine blessing the world so much needs this Advent and beyond!