Publisher: dwinger Volume No. 4 Issue No 7 Date Feb. 16, 05
Authority is not something I have tended to embrace. As I look back I can see that I had little regard for any authority in my life. Oh, I always knew where the line was, and usually didn’t stray to far across it. I can remember in high school making a conscience decision that I was not going to be afraid of any punishment. The “fun” I could have disobeying the rules would far outweigh any punishment I could have.
The religious tradition that I came from produced its own authority. Each congregation was independent and chose men to serve as elders and deacons of the local congregation. We diligently studied the scriptures to see what we should do to serve as the Body of Christ. I set out to read and study the Bible for myself so I would know what I believed. I will never forget coming across the passage while reading from the gospel of John, “You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40) The Holy Spirit hit me square on the head. I had been in the process of relying on my own knowledge and study for eternal life and not Jesus. I ultimately decided to give Him full authority in my life. Now, I can come even closer to Him in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
As I came into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, to come under the authority of those whom Christ had ordained put a freedom in my life that is hard to explain. To know that Christ has given these men His authority, set me free to work more for Christ in my life and His Church. These living apostles we call bishops have the Holy Spirit guiding and working through them. That is comforting to me because I know that God doesn’t make mistakes, and therefore the Magisterium of the Church is infallible.
It saddens me when I hear fellow Catholics and Christians disregarding the authority of the Church. Christ put that authority there for a purpose, one reason being to protect us from ourselves. We as laity need to embrace the authority Christ has established and work with it to build up the Body of Christ. This kind of unity, to be one as Jesus and the Father are one, will be seen by the world. (Jesus recognized the Father’s authority, and the Father gave Jesus all authority over heaven and earth.) When the world sees this kind of unity, it cannot help but see Jesus, and believe that the Father has sent Him. (John 17) Then we may all be united in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Authority unites us. When the authority that Jesus has established through Apostolic Succession and the Primacy of Peter is recognized, we can then be one.