Monday, December 13, 2010

Proper Authority

In its basic form, authority refers to that which most influences someone. The "influence" is often received as a command or order, even though free will is still functioning. In today's Gospel, Jesus seeks to turn the tables on his questioners. When they ask “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?", Jesus tries to get them to identify the source of John's authority. In doing so, He puts them in a dilemma, since they will have to admit their own point of view and accept the consequences.
It is the same with us. We sometimes are put in a dilemma, since there are different "authorities" that can influence us in different directions. For example, the government may say one thing about capital punishment or abortion, and God may say quite another. Some people try to compromise, but that is never satisfactory ("I am personally opposed to abortion, but...").Others go to the extreme of trying to impose their own authority by force rather than reason ("because I said so!").
We are challenged today to identify the primary and fundamental source of authority for our decisions and actions. On what do we base them? What or Who influences us in our daily lives, especially in important matters? For every believer, if God is not the source, we have to question whether or not we can call ourselves believers. As Catholics, we believe that all authority comes from God. Whether government or church, only God has authority by His very nature, since He is creator and sustain-er of all. And when we allow God to influence our actions and decisions, when we place ourselves under His authority, we have the best chance of success. How will we measure our success? Certainly not by popularity, prestige or power on earth - Jesus had none of these. No, for us success will be achieved when we hear "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the inheritance prepared for you from the beginning of time." And then we iwll know that we listened to and followed the proper Authority!

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