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Matthew 21: 23-27

 23 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?”

24 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.  25 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?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.”  27 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.

 Reflection

How often it is that opponents of Jesus put their finger on the heart of the matter.  “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

That reminds me of the retort we used to say as kids when we thought that a sibling, friend or another peer was taking too much control of a situation.  We’d say:  “Who died and made you King (or Queen)?”   On what basis are you claiming this authority?    Or,  as a parent (or grandparent), when a child protests a direction of some sort (“but WHY do we have to do that?),  you may have used the phrase “Because I said so!”  Which is another way of claiming authority.

Of course this is a key theme of all the gospels.  Jesus asks his disciples — “who do the people say that I am” and “who do you say I am?”   He is asking whether they recognize his authority.

Do we recognize Jesus’ authority in our lives today?   Do we step back and ask our Lord to lead our life?  Do we yield to his commands to love one another, to put others first,  to forgive, to be peacemakers?    Or, do we claim the authority over our lives to do as we wish?

Thinking back to that childhood retort, someone of course did die and was made a king.  But it wasn’t you or me.

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help us to know that you are our Lord, our Savior, our King.

Help us to turn our lives over to you,

and live!

Amen

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