Jesus the AUTHORity of life – Monday, third week of Advent – Matthew 21:23-27
The Gospel of today brings to a close the period of preparation for the second coming of the Lord. From tomorrow onwards the Gospels will usher in the story of the birth of Jesus. To bring the first period of Advent to a close, the Church chooses today’s Gospel as a last ditch effort for those who have still not taken up the initial message to repent and be ready; a message that John the Baptist proclaimed to herald the arrival of the Messiah.
John was singular in his calling; repentance was a pre-requisite in order to truly welcome the Kingdom of God that was be announced by Jesus the Messiah. Yet even though this prophet was widely accepted by the people (verse 26) his message, and by extension the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, was also rejected by the ‘religious authority’. (Verse 23)
Perhaps what was at play was a power struggle. The religious ‘authorities’ were unwilling to let go the stranglehold they held over religion and the people for 400 years. When the message of the Messiah was announced by John, they rejected it even though simpler folk recognised this message and welcomed Jesus the Messiah.
In response to Jesus’ question, “Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” their first response is in fact an admission of who John was, hence an ipso facto acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. They said, “If we say his baptism was from heaven then he will say to us, why did you not believe him (John) and by extension why did you not accept me (Jesus)? Had the religious authorities truly believed that John was a fraud their response would have be the usual uproar but they were silent. Hence their answer was nothing short of damage control. They respond by saying. “We do not know.”
The point of today’s Gospel is that WE KNOW who Jesus is, we know his AUTHORITY over our lives and yet perhaps like the Jewish authority we do not want to bear witness to the truth like John the Baptist did. 16th December is our last chance! The reality is that from tomorrow we begin to prepare for the birth of Jesus and that means only one thing – we are preparing for the birth of OUR SAVIOUR. People may give Christmas the secular twist that the world spins; it does not change the reality of who Christ is and why he came.
The question of Jesus authority will be taken up again at the mass at midnight on Christmas Eve. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah from where the first reading will be taken, the Church will boldly proclaim, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Fr Warner D’Souza