Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.”
They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
We can get so locked into our routines that they seem unstoppable. Even some of our day-to-day expressions, like how “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” express our conviction that after a certain point, what has been will be, and nothing can change that. This is the position of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees are utterly convinced that what they are accustomed to is how things must always be, and challenge Jesus’ authority (cf. Mk. 11:28). But Jesus does not act with tired old human authority, but with ever-new divine authority. God wishes to burst into the oldness of our lives and give us newness. Last May, a 95 year old man became Catholic and embraced God’s newness. No matter how old we are, God can still do new things with us, in spite of what the Pharisees say. Can we embrace the newness God offers us?
—David Paternostro, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest on June 9, 2018. His first assignment as a priest will be at Immaculate Conception Church, a Jesuit parish in New Orleans.
God of Love,
You are with me in all things, at all times.
In what is old … and in the new.
Thank you for every opportunity you offer. Stretch me to be open to new things.
Teach me to trust in your great love.
And be with me as I act for your greater glory.
—The Jesuit Prayer team