The Gospel Today
Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
When Jesus 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.”
Reflection (Sem. Rodel D. Aclan)
“By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Those two questions of the chief priest and the elders to Jesus show that they did not recognize Jesus as the source of that teaching. Jesus, an ordinary citizen of Israel, was not educated like them, yet what He taught people could not be refuted. For the chief priest and elders, Jesus could not do all those things on His own; there was somebody else behind Him.
Of course, we know that there is someone behind the Lord, and it is none other than His Father in heaven. God the Father is the source of His authority in doing the things He did. He was doing the will of His Father and that was why His teachings could not be contradicted.
The questions of the elders can be a point of reflection for me. As a seminarian, it is good to be constantly reminded of who is the authority in my life or the source of inspiration of my actions. Is it still I who determine the course of my actions?
When I entered the seminary almost two years ago, I left my job and the way of life that I had. I recognized the new authority over me. I surrendered the control of my life to God. But I realized that it is very easy to take back the authority that I surrendered to God. For when I am faced with trials and challenges, God is seemingly nowhere to be found. The seminary formation has put me in situations where I could choose to do things according to my own will or allow God to be God in my life, by entering with trust into His mysterious designs for me.
The question for me now is no longer about who gave the authority, but are my actions still in conformity with the Giver of the authority? Is He still my inspiration for my actions?
Today, as we commemorate the memorial of St. John of the Cross, we can learn from his submission to the Authority of his life, Jesus. He was quite sure of that. He labored much to reform his religious order, bringing them back Jesus, in spite of the great resistance of many of his brothers. He acted on the authority of God, which mandated everybody to holiness. He resisted the authority of the flesh, comfort and conformity to the wrong, and the lax way of living of many of his brothers. He embraced the darkest hour of his life by trusting in Christ, Lo and behold, Christ showed Him the Light.