People in authority and people with power spend a lot of time checking for erosion. So in today's Gospel, the leaders and elders are less interested in what Jesus is doing, and more interested in who authorised it, especially if it wasn't them! Remember the time Jesus healed the man with the withered arm. They could have said, "Nice Arm!" But they couldn't see the arm. If all you have is a hammer, all you can see is a nail.
They are, of course, looking to set a trap. If Jesus says he acts on Divine Authority, then God help him because that is there area of expertise. So He resets their trap and springs it on them. Now watch them squirm. And they squirm so much they get all tangled up to the point where all they can say is that they don't know. Not a great answer from those who claim to speak for God.
Jesus, like John, wants Metanoia, a new mind. By profession the priests and elders are expected to be close to God. By profession, tax collectors and prostitutes are expected to be far from God. The only difference being that when the latter heard the call to change, they changed. New Mind, New Heart, New Shoes.
From the Sufi Wisdom stories:
Once upon a time, there was a court case against Mulla Nasruddin. The judge asked him,
"How old are you Nasruddin?"
And he answered, " Of course, you know and everybody knows I am forty years old."
The judge was surprised. "But five years ago, you were also in this court. When I asked you then how old you were you said forty. How is this possible? After five years you are still forty?"
Nasruddin said, " I am a consistent man, sir. Once I say I am forty, I will remain forty. I'm not going to keep changing my mind about that."
Loyalty to the mind is useless. Holding the same position despite the evidence carries a very high price tag. The Sufis say the mind is a good servant but a poor Master. Clinging to what we ' think'robs us of the ability to tune into the deeper rhythms of our hearts. The religious leaders could not listen to Jesus because their minds were already made up.
I wonder if the same dilemma still plagues us today?