Matthew 21:23-27: Authority Questioned
Saturday, July 23, 2016
After we reflect on God as the lover and the most excellent promise the Lord offers, it is appropriate to pause . . . that we might consider what authority supports these concepts. Several times Paul advises that we test the spirit (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 8:8, 13:5, Galatians 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:21) to see that we are acting in accord with God’s will as opposed to having gone off on a private agenda of our own. We are not testing God in these cases; rather, we examine our own understanding of what we believe to be God’s word to us.
John recommends that we test ourselves: Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone into the world. (1 John 4:1)
But what we see in today’s reading is not an attempt on the part of the Pharisees and scribes to discover Jesus’ authenticity as the word of God. What we see is their desire to gain any information that might silence him, any words with which to catch him, to trip him up.
I love the way that Jesus’ replies to their cagey questions . . . with questions of his own that go to the heart of their envy, greed and deception. He knows that they fear losing temple tax, power and recognition. Jesus does not answer their questions . . . nor do they persist; because Jesus has made their dark motives evident through his own patient persevering dialog.
We ourselves are sometimes questioned by people who have ulterior motives and so we might think of these interrogations of Christ as his own demonstration of how to handle one’s self when under fire. This questioning or testing need not be a bad experience . . . if we remember to speak from the truth we have funded in ourselves through our endless search for God. For when we are questioned, we find; when we are interrogated, we have the opportunity to encounter God.
And so we pray: Heavenly Father, bring us the patience, the wisdom and the serenity to answer the questions put to us from those who test the authority on which we stand. Help us to test ourselves to see if the spirit we follow is yours. Help us to seek Christ through scripture and through our daily conversations with you so that we will not be lacking when we are put to the test. We know that when we empty ourselves of our daily worries, we leave room for you to enter and act.
When we are anxious, send us your peace.
When we are threatened; send us your peace.
When we are fearful; send us your peace.
When we stand alone; send us your peace.
When we are sorrowful; send us your peace.
When we are abandoned; send us your peace.
When we are questioned; send us your peace.
When we have found you . . . send us your peace . . . that we might recognize you . . . and sink into the serenity you have promised.
A Favorite from February 2, 2009.