The religious leaders who question Jesus about his authority are silenced when Jesus, in turn, questions them about the origin of John’s baptism. They are caught between fear of “looking bad” for not having followed a man of God and fear of others who clearly believe John was sent from heaven. Their dilemma regarding John, of course, sets up the drama that will follow this encounter: they will be forced to make a decision about Jesus himself. Is he “just a man” or is he “from God”? The charge against him leading to his death will ultimately and cleverly combine both: “He made himself the Son of God.”
The question of Jesus’ identity invades our Advent meditations. After all, just who is it that we await? Do we wait for a good man, even a holy man, who can tell us some interesting things about God? Or is the one we seek the Son of God who, as God, lives in our own flesh and blood? If we believe him to be the Son of God, what difference does that make in the way we prepare to welcome him, in the way we listen to what he has to say? Do we ever find ourselves caught in the dilemma similar to that of the religious leaders in today’s gospel? In other words, do we say we believe Jesus to be truly the Son of God, but live daily life as though that were not so? What difference will it make to me in my routine today to say that Jesus is the Son of God? Will I let him have “authority” over me, my schedule and my choices today?
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