My beloved, you must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. But build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Again they came to Jerusalem. Now as Jesus 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."
God requires honesty in us, in order to properly relate to Him.Dishonesty sets up a more formidable barrier to God's presence with us than many of our more identifiable sins. These can be forgiven by God's great mercy, but only if we are honest enough to admit that we have sins to be forgiven. Jude deals with this kind of honesty, when he writes: "Correct those who are confused; the others you must rescue, snatching them from the fire."
Jesus makes a similar demand, when religious leaders feel that their monopoly of truth and holiness dispenses them from being honest and above board. To protect their status they permit themselves to lie or to be devious. In the early church, some people felt so spiritually sanctified that they could ignore normal discipline in their lives, particularly in acts such as eating or physical expressions of love. They were not honest enough to admit the integral unity between body and soul, physical and spiritual.
Today's gospel is set just after Jesus cleansed the temple. It was a very daring thing to do. There were people in charge of the temple. Jesus certainly had not been authorized by them to do what he did. The question of the authorities who administered the temple is very understandable, "What authority have you for acting like this? Who gave you this authority? This happened towards the end of Jesus' public ministry. At the start of his ministry, according to Mark, the ordinary people were impressed by the authority with which Jesus spoke and acted. Far from being disturbed by his claim to authority, as the religious leaders were, they were greatly impressed by it. They kept asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching, with authority."
Basically, Jesus spoke and acted with the authority of God. For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, it was a liberating authority. We all need an authority of some sort as a reference point in life. The real issue is who or what will we take as our authority. The gospels assure is that Jesus embodies the authentic authority of God, an authority that empowers us to become fully human and fully alive.