Monday, 3rd Week of Advent
From: Matthew 21:23-27
The Authority of Jesus is Questioned
 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"  Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.  The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?'  But if we say, 'From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet."  So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
23-27. When the chief priests and elders ask "By what authority are you doing these things?" they are referring both to his teaching and to his self-assured public actions--throwing the traders out of the Temple, entering Jerusalem in triumph, allowing the children to acclaim him, curing the sick, etc. What they want him to do is to prove that he has authority to act in this way or to admit openly that he is the Messiah. However, Jesus knows that they are not well-intentioned and he declines to give them a direct answer; he prefers to put a question to them that forces them to make their own attitude clear. He seeks to provoke them into examining their consciences and changing their whole approach.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.