I cannot imagine myself challenging Jesus’ teaching authority in my life as the chief priests and the elders of the people do in today’s gospel. How dare they! At least that’s the way I feel when I am immersed in the graces of Advent bolstered by the glistening lights, festive decorations, traditional Christmas carols, and even the gently falling snow outside my window on a cold December day. Ah, yes, my world is at peace and I am attentive to Jesus and his word and actions. Of course I am in tune with His authority.
What happens, however, when the lights are not glistening and the decorations do not appear all that festive to me and the Christmas carols seem endless and repetitive? My world is not in order. Most likely, I’m not managing my world very well. Possibly it is because it is my world — small, narrow, and too self-centered. What then of Jesus’s authority in my life? I tell myself “It’s not Jesus. It’s that person who is not reacting or performing as I wish. It’s that work that I have not been able to keep up with.
It’s the interruptions in my life which get in the way of being with Jesus and being attentive to him. In other words, as long as I am in control of “my”world and things are going my way, Jesus fits in quite well. Somehow or other, if I’m honest, I have fallen in with the chief priests and the elders in today’s gospel. I cannot acknowledge that Jesus, not I, is the Messiah! It is his world and I’m not the center of it.
But it does not have to be that way. In these final days of Advent I can take three minutes at noon and three minutes before I retire to see where Jesus has been active in my life in the last hours. It will be instructive to see how Jesus is in the interruptions of life, in the supposed difficult people, in the work that I am doing. Using today’s psalm response all I have to do is keep asking “Teach me your ways, O Lord!”
—Fr. John Libens, S.J. is superior of the 69 retired Jesuits living at Colombiere Center, Clarkston, Michigan. This Jesuit Community prays each day for the special intentions of those making prayer requests to www.jesuitprayer.org