Monday of the Third Week of Advent
The authority and the freedom of Jesus
When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things. Mt 21,23-27
There are debates of Jesus regarding his freedom from the law and others, like today, regarding his freedom from the established power, but both descend from the divine authority. We are referring not to a whatever authority but to that one of his word by which he speaks, winning the spirit of the evil, as the first word of God had won the primitive chaos. In the today’s gospel, the chief priests and the elders of the people, realizing that their privileged position was jeopardized by a man who breaks down all the established power, declaring that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Mk 10,45), posed to him a question which is a real process: “By what authority are you doing these things?”. Jesus does not answer and his silence involves us too, because it is related on the way by which to arrive to the faith. In the long walks with my friend Sergio, always looking for compelling evidences to believe in Jesus Christ, I have tried several times to prove the source of my faith, but I did not obtain great results, because in the field of the faith who tries too much does not prove anything. Becoming aware of this, one day I changed my strategy: “The faith is a risk – I said to him – it is a jump in the dark, it is to accept the person of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, in the darkness of the intelligence and in the emptiness of any human security. Signs leading to the faith do not lack, because the entire reality is a sign, but this can be read and understood only in the light of the faith itself”. I think that Sergio has accepted this and he has silently put himself on the road. It is the best way to reach the faith and today it helps us to understand the rejection of Jesus to authenticate and justify his authority. It comes directly from the heaven, from the Father, but it is rooted in our freedom: Jesus is free from the selfishness, from the pursuit of the power and of the success, from the links and from the imposition of the Jewish law which has its center in the synagogue. Perhaps the greatest sign of his divinity is precisely this freedom from everything, even from himself, as to be ready to die on the cross. And even the non-response of Jesus to the priests and the elders of the people in the today’s gospel is a sign of his freedom.