By what authority

Published December 13, 2020, 11:19 PM

by Manila Bulletin


Authority or power (exousia in Greek) can come or be derived from various sources: the self (as in autocracy), the people (like in a democracy), and others. But ultimately it comes from God, as Jesus tells Pilate (cf Jn 19:11) or Paul writes to the Christians in Rome (cf Rom 13:1). When one has authority, one has “permission” to act or do something within the bounds of that office and the “common good.”

Jesus is accused by the Jewish authorities of not having such authority, or at least, they question the source of his authority for teaching and doing things, especially working miracles. They are more concerned with the source of his authority than the good he does. And yet, ironically, Jesus insists that he is doing the works of the Father who has sent him and, hence, is the source of his authority.

In fairness to the Jews, as is happening now in our midst, how can we right away believe someone claiming to be God-sent or God’s representative? Still, the overall testimony of Jesus’ life, and the way it harmonizes with the longings of Israel, should be enough to make them recognize who Jesus is.

When we speak and act, by whose authority are we doing so?

Gospel • MATTHEW 21:23-27

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.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2020,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: