“By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” Mk 11:28
When someone's life or message make us uncomfortable or angry, it is easy to challenge their authority. The assumption, of course, is that they have none and we do not have to listen to them. President Jimmy Carter, who by most accounts was an unsuccessful president, often makes Americans uncomfortable with his insistence that we need to learn to listen to everyone, if we want a lasting peace. His only authority for doing this, since he is no longer president, is the integrity of his personal life and faith.
Jesus is like this in the gospel. When challenged about who has given him authority to speak, he traps his opponents by asking them a question about John the Baptist's authority. If the Pharisees acknowledge that John was a messenger of God they would have to listen to him even though his he is demanding that they reform their lives. If they say John is not from God, they will anger the people who accept John's message. Because the leaders of the Jews are concerned only with losing their own authority, they fall silent and withdraw to plan more attacks upon Jesus. Jesus' invitation to the Pharisees to understand their faith differently falls on deaf ears.
Today think about what tactics you use not to listen to others who hurt or agitate you?
Whose authority do you trust most and why?