TUESDAY HOMILY: Christ's Amazing Authority
In this Year of Faith, the Church calls us to renewed amazement at Jesus' teaching so that with gratitude and wonder we will become living commentaries of his Good News.
The same Jesus who entered the Capernaum synagogue enters our Catholic Churches throughout the country today. After he speaks "live" in the Gospel as it is proclaimed, he who created the heavens and the earth with his word, who called fishermen and tax collectors to follow him so powerfully that they immediately got up and did so, will do something far more amazing than cast out a devil or silence a storm at sea. He will change bread and wine into his body and blood and cast himself into believers. If we recognize what is really going on, if we awaken to the power of his words, we will be far more amazed than Jesus' contemporaries two millennia ago.
One of the goals of the Year of Faith is to help every believer become more and more amazed and astonished by Jesus' teaching and to see it as the free medicine to heal the wounded souls of so many in the world.
Jesus teaches unlike any other teacher. His contemporaries said he "taught with authority, unlike the scribes." The scribes always used to cite Sacred Scripture or Jewish tradition, to base their teachings on the authority of the word of God.
Well, Jesus didn't need to cite the word of God, because he was the Word of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, for example, he contrasted himself to what Moses, their greatest teacher up until then, said to them in the desert: "You have heard that it was said - in other words, Moses said to you - 'you shall not kill.' 'you shall not commit adultery. ,' 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.,' but I say to you, you shall not even be angry with a brother, or look on a woman with lust in your heart, or if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other as well" (Mt 5:20-45).
Authority comes from the Latin word for "author," and Jesus spoke with authority because he was the author, the creator, of man and the world.
To capture just a little of what it must have been like to listen to Jesus talk about God, about the world, about man, and about faith and morality, we can imagine listening to Vince Lombardi discuss football, the Wright Brothers talk about airplanes, Henry Ford talk about cars, Thomas Edison describe electricity, Steve Jobs talk about computers, iPads, iPods and iPhones.
They could speak with greater authority than almost everyone else because they were the "authors," the inventors, of what we now take for granted.
Well, that's just a glimpse of what it it ought to be like for us to listen to Jesus, who is the author of the world, the one through whom all things were made. He could command even the seas and the wind (Mk 4:41) and the demons and they would obey him, because he is the Lord of all.
Jesus continues to teach with that amazing authority. He does so clearly at Mass. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that "when the holy scriptures are read in Church, it is Christ himself who speaks" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). That's why we stand when the Gospel is proclaimed, because we stand for Christ who himself is proclaiming it through his minister.
But Christ also speaks to us with his authority through the teaching of the Church, to whom he gave his own amazing authority to continue his saving work. Before ascending into heaven, he said to his apostles: "Full authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Mt 28:18-20).
He gave that authority in a special way to the visible head of the Church he founded. He told Peter that he was the rock on whom he was going to build his Church and then gave him the authority to open and lock the way to heaven: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:19).
The Church firmly believes that that authority was passed down to St. Peter's successors all the way to Pope Benedict. Christ also gave his authority to the apostles as a whole (and their successors, the bishops) so that they could, as ambassadors, teach authoritatively in his name, saying, somewhat amazinging,"Whoever hears you hears me, and whoever rejects you rejects me" (Lk 10:16).
The question for us today and throughout the ...
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