Authority and Leadership

Mark 11: 27-33
Jud 17,20-25 / Psa 63

By what authority are you doing these things?
(Mark 11:28)

To gain wisdom, Lord, we have found
Submission is what You require.
The crafty and smart You confound,
The humble of heart You desire.

Jesus and His disciples returned once more to Jerusalem. 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.” (Mark 11:27-33)

Reflection

How supremely ironic that the scribes and the high priests should ask the Source of all authorities and rights on earth who gave Him the authority to rectify their abuses of the authority given to them. If they had only seen the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before, withered down to its roots, they probably would not have dared to ask Him: “Who gave you the authority to do these things?”

In our daily encounter with life’s trials and travails, don’t we sometimes fall into the same trap of questioning God for our misfortunes, or for other tragedies that we cannot understand? “Why did You allow this to happen, Lord?” we complain. In our emotional state we are unaware that we are actually questioning God’s authority. All authority on earth emanates from the Almighty. We are His creation. He can do with us as He pleases, and we can do nothing but submit to His Will. In the same way, we do not question the doctrines of our Church, because we believe that its authority emanates directly from God. The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, the Holy Eucharist, etc. are not of human origin; they all come from heaven.

In our brotherhood too, we have learned never to question the authority of our elders, and because of this we enjoy the blessings of love, harmony, and peace. We have also grown to value obedience; we do not argue with our leaders when we are asked to perform certain tasks, like for instance transferring to another group, or leading one, or preparing to give a talk that we do not find interesting. All of us are servants of the Lord, and must humble ourselves and submit to authority. This is part of the process of our spiritual growth.

May we all learn to accept the authority that has been handed down to those who are tasked with various responsibilities: from the humble security guards and traffic aides, to our superiors in business, government, and church hierarchy as well as the leaders of our renewal community.

Enlighten our leaders, Lord, on the proper use of their authority to lead, that it is not how they use their power that is important, but how they can serve best in the use of their given authority. May the words of Your Son always guide us: “He who wants to be your leader must first be the servant of all” (Matthew 20:27). Amen.

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