I fight authority, authority always wins! True words from singer John Mellencamp. Authority always does seem to win.
We all should know quite a bit about authority. We are subject to authority from parents, teachers, supervisors and more. We are taught to respect authority in civil matters when it comes to obeying laws provided they are not immoral laws, how we treat our fellow man, even that dreaded task of paying our taxes.
As people of faith, there is one authority we have no need to fight; the authority of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Catholic Church!
On this 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time there is an emphasis on "authority". In today's reading from Mark's Gospel we see Jesus teaching for the first time. This is no ordinary teaching for Scripture tells us that Jesus taught with authority. So much so that even an unclean spirit obeyed Jesus. All commented that Jesus taught with authority, a new teaching! Now Mark does not give us any details on what Jesus was teaching but rather focuses on authoyrity. There is also another important aspect to this story. Apparently the synagogue officials do not know who Jesus is. Yet the unclean spirit identified Jesus as the Holy One of God! Even the demons and unclean spirits know who Jesus is yet the people miss the clues. That happens all around us today. Despite 2,000 years of Church teaching, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, many miss Jesus, the one who teaches with authority, as the Holy One of God!
How do these teachings continue to be passed on to us today? How does each subsequent generation know of the Holy One of God? Where do we find authority today? Let's be clear, all authority is a gift from God and the teaching authority of Jesus is still that of Jesus. But in God's plan, by his holy design and perfect will, that authority lies in what we call the Magesterium - the teaching authority of the Church!
We understand the Magesterium is the teaching of the Pope along with the Bishops of the world in union with the Pope. Church teaching tells us that when teaching definitively on matters of faith and morals we can be assured that this is teaching with authority, the authority of Jesus Christ. We can also be assured that, as promised, when teaching on matters of faith and morals, that teaching is protected by the Holy Spirit. The Pope, when teaching ex-cathedra, from the Chair of Peter, is protected from all error. Now that is authority! The Magesterium, the teaching authority of the Church, along with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, combine to make up the full deposit of faith, the three-legged stool that guides us to holiness and salvation. This is the true fullness of truth that so many of our Christian brothers and sisters miss. We need all three!
Do we not need such a teaching authority today? Indeed we do. It is the Magesterium called upon in every generation to guide the people of God through the storms that an ever increasing secular world and lifestyle throw at us. Could the Christians of the first few centuries ever have imagined that their descendants, you and I, would be dealing with things like abortion on demand, late-term abortions, hideous forms of chemical, artificial birth control that closes the door to life, making human beings dependent on the chemical companies getting rich while sickening those who take these drugs in more and varied ways as the science reveals the true horror. How about euthanasia, gender reassignment and the redefininition of marriage. It is the Magesterium of the Catholic Church that has, is and will continue to teach with authority that we are to do God's will not the will of culture, societies, media and politicians, some who claim to be very Catholic, hell-bent on replacing God with the power they think they have. Yes it is the magisterium, leading all of us, the people of God, in opposing what is wrong and doing what is right. Oh yes, sometimes, many times, we stumble and we must acknowledge that even many of our own do not follow Church teaching. Unlike many other once relevant Christian traditions that bend and sway and change every time they place their finger in the air, Holy Mother Church has held firm in all life issues. As the bride of Christ, the same Christ that teaches with authority, the Church must teach with that same authority; it is one and the same.
What does this mean for us this week; during these confusing times; what can we do? As Catholics we must know and understand this teaching authority of the Catholic Church. We need only to go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Don't have one, why not? There is not one Catholic family that should be without one in each home. Of course, in today's world, it is on the internet. Google it! Now once you have access to the Catechism, our homework this week is to carefully read paragraphs 74-100. If we read this carefully and thoughtfully, we will learn much of what we need to know about the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, the Magesterium. Please commit to read these sections of the Catechism, at least twice in the week ahead. And since in all things we are called to prayer, this week a beautiful and special prayer is available to each of us. This coming Friday is 1st Friday, we have all day Adoration and evening Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Some of us avail ourselves of this beautiful devotion and opportunity to pray but some of us have not been to Adoration and Benediction in a long, long time. What better week, when the teaching authority of our Church is attacked with more and more evil, attacked even from within, to come and participate in Adoration and even Benediction. All day, this Friday immediately after morning mass concluding with Benediction at 7 pm.
Yep, when we fight authority, we are told authority always wins. In the authority of Jesus Christ, and in his bride, the Church, we have no need to fight. We should take great joy that this authority always wins; and it is a win for each and everyone of us when we embrace and submit to this authority. Yes, following the authority of Jesus Christ and His bride, Holy Mother Church, we win! We win - no matter what!