By what authority do you do that? That’s the question the High priests and the elders of the people ask Jesus. It’s a question that probably needs no response; we can feel already the resistance towards Jesus expressed in the question.
But what has Jesus done? We may wonder. In fact, this episode comes after Jesus drives the traders from the temple. In a way, they are telling him you have no authority whatsoever to act as you did; you have no mandate to act in the name of God and in the name of our nation.
Readings Numbers 24 :2-7.15-17a Mt 21 :23-27
Jesus’ authority is not recognised
What may be surprising is the fact that these people who put Jesus in question are the very ones who have been waiting for the coming of the Messiah. And indeed, the Messiah is there teaching and acting but they do can’t recognise him. He’s the high priest in the temple but he’s not acknowledged as such. The temple is sign of God’s presence among his people, a place where the people meet with their God; there Jesus is as son of God among his people but not recognised. They miss it all. But what’s the matter?
The obstacle is that he comes but not in the manner that conforms to their ideas and images of the Messiah. They pretend to know it all, they aren’t just ready for a surprise from God.
Here we are in the time of Advent, awaiting the coming of the Messiah. But what kind of Messiah am I waiting for? How open am I to welcome the Lord as he presents himself to me, and not as I want him to be?
Lord, we acknowledge that you reveal yourself to us through persons and events even where we least expect you. By your Spirit heal us from the blindness of our incredulity so that we may recognise your presence among us. Heal also our relationships marked by mistrust so that we may honour your presence in very person we meet.
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