By Mark Latta
Jesus challenged the authorities of the world in his ministry. At first glance his seemingly trick question asking whether John the Baptist’s authority came from heaven or was of human origin seems almost too blunt and rude from our savior. In reality the tone was always consistent with his teaching to respect the authorities of the world over the things of the world within their scope (Mark 12:17-“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s) but to refute the callow hard heartedness of the authorities on matters of God’s kingdom (“and to God what is God’s”).
We walk each day in balance with being in the world as we strive to not be of the world. In our calling to with and for others, we are in a constant state of tension between the wishes of God and the demands of the world. The practice of Ignatian discernment—to weigh the movements of the Spirit within us and to listen for consolation or desolation can aid us in navigating the tension and achieving our balance.
We cannot however let the daily challenges of the world reduce our fire for proclaiming the Gospel. Let us not make the same error as the priests, scribes and elders who when challenged simply avoided truth by saying “We do not know”. Revelation 3:15–16 (NIV) clearly expresses God’s desire for our hearts and deeds and the consequences of our saying “we do not know”:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.