POWER AND AUTHORITY

Saturday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time             

            Alexander Woollcott met G.K. Chesterton for lunch at a London restaurant. Chesterton expounded on a variety of philosophical topics, including the relationship between power and authority. “If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here.” “But I should be the first one to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.”

            The chief priests, the scribes and the elders in today’s gospel reading are questioning Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things?” In other words, they are questioning the authority of Jesus. It is important to know the context of this question. This question has a special reference to the cleansing of the Temple. The scene of today’s gospel is preceded by the incident in the Temple – in which Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple area.

            Take note: Jesus does not answer them. Why? Because they are actually challenging him rather than searching for the truth. We already know the answer to their question: The authority of Jesus is from God. Jesus is sent by God, and the Father has put all things into his power.

            We have to honestly examine ourselves and ask: Are we really submitting ourselves to Jesus’ power and authority? Can we honestly say that we are indeed allowing his power and authority to prevail in our life? To shape our minds and hearts, to form our values and principles? To rule over our interests and ambitions, to take over our plans and projects? To guide our affairs and activities, to influence our decisions and choices? May we able to show in our life that, indeed, we are subjected to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

            We too have authority. We are also placed in positions of authority. True authority is not a personal possession. It comes from God and is to be used always with an eye on God. It is to be used according to God’s purpose. It is to be used to help and serve others. Whatever authority we have – as parents, elders, teachers, ministers, public officials – we must use sensitively… that God may be pleased… that God may be glorified.

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