Saturday, June 02, 2012
In today's Gospel a group of Americans--make that Pharisees--come to Jesus with a question. "By whose authority do you do these things?" It could also be rephrased as "Where do you get the right to do the things you do and teach the things you do?" It's a good question. In fact, faced with Jesus' words and deeds, it is a necessary question. Even now, if we do not have the answer to that question, all the religious observances in the world rest on a flimsy foundation. And yet when Jesus turns the tables on them with his own question of authority, the Pharisees show themselves proto-Americans. Instead of looking for the truth, they calculate their answer by cause and effect, and they stay there. "If we say this, he will say that; if we say the other thing, the people will react like this..." In other words, "Which answer 'works' best for us? And so they pled ignorance. "We have no idea where John the Baptist's mission came from." The question of authority is just as vital in the life of the Church in our day. It isn't enough to appeal to the Church's authority as if it were its own source. The truth behind the Church's authority to "do the things she does and teach the things she teaches" has to be discerned and recognized (and ultimately surrendered to), even though our cultural temptation might be to take a practical approach and simply go with whichever answer "works" best for us.
Posted by Sr Anne Flanagan at 11:16 AM