By Michael Smith

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 20:1-8

1 One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders 2 and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” 3 He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: 4 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” 5 They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”


An interesting thing about authority is that it is best given rather than forced upon someone. The former is a gift while the latter is a burden. The official religious authorities of Jesus’ time wanted to know where his authority came from. Obviously, the people were giving Jesus an authority that made the chief priests and scribes feel jealous and threatened. In typical fashion, Jesus stumps his critics by answering their question with a question.

Today is the commemoration of Enmegahbowh of White Earth, the first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church. One of the reasons Indigenous leaders are so important is that they speak the language of the people and can receive authority from their own relatives in a way that outsiders cannot. Jesus invites us, not demands of us, to give him authority over our lives. By his blood he makes “saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

Who is the ultimate authority in your life? How do you hear that voice in a language you understand?

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Tennessee
The Diocese of Cashel Ferns and Ossory (Church of Ireland)