“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.” – Mk. 11:28-29
The chief priests and elders in today’s Gospel don’t understand Jesus. They want to test him, trap him really, unable to break free of their limited perceptions of who the Messiah can be. They are unwilling to move beyond their understanding and trust that a new paradigm stands literally right before them.
In light of the recent events in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, San Bernardino, and a recent shift in my own life, I have found myself questioning God almost just the same. They are more along the lines of “Jesus, how much longer?”, “What will Advent really bring in the midst of all this?”, “What do we do now?” - underscoring the temptation to dismiss Him instead of meeting in deeper trust. Then the question arises, what is getting in the way? I discover fears that still remain: fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of a lack of worthiness, fear of not being accepted; a constant self-criticism; other deep-seated patterns of worry. What is common among them all? A focus on my own perceived limitations versus God’s abounding patience and mercy, as well as a lack of deeper compassion toward others.
Then the movement from understanding to trust is the clear invitation, and one that has become more comfortable; but how to do this consistently? The response that remains is simply to take another step forward, one graced moment at a time. To say as the psalmist does today, “I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near” - and as we celebrate St. John of the Cross today as well, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he’s traveling on, then he must close his eyes and travel in the dark.” That through the darkness comes the brightest Light, bringing forth a hope that transforms our deepest fears into waiting dreams.
How am I being invited to understand less, and trust more? What is getting in the way?
Lord, help me to be led more deeply into your tender love and mercy today.