When I was in seminary, I had a bumper sticker on my car that read “QUESTION AUTHORITY.”
Considering it was on the late model, wood-paneled minivan belonging to a mother of three, it may have seemed incongruous. I was a poor excuse for a radical, actually a pretty tame little character, a devoted mom and a good student. Wasn’t I studying for the ministry? Well, sure, and I held God in high authority. It was human authority that worried me.
This week we’ll be hearing a story from the gospel about people who tested Jesus’ authority. The tension is rising. The setting is Jerusalem, in what we have come to call Holy Week. Jesus has been to the Temple and turned over the tables, so of course the religious leaders see him as a troublemaker who disrespects familiar ways. He’s a guy who set himself up as the expert on matters they considered to be their bailiwick. Since he has questioned their authority, they question his.
I still have questions, and a lot of them are directed to God. Why do hard things happen? How can we sort out where the Church is going? What’s next for each of us? Why can’t it all be simpler?
Sometimes the answers are clear, but other times they are as opaque as the parable of the Vineyard Owner’s sons.
Still, I keep asking the questions. You?