Posts Tagged ‘Authority’

Who Speaks With Authority?

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 2: 1-4, 10-12; Mark 6: 7-13

Dc. Larry Brockman

I couldn’t help but notice some common threads between our Old Testament reading and the Gospel.  In both cases, authority was delegated by the principal.  David delegated his authority to Solomon; and Jesus delegated his authority to the Apostles.  In both cases, Kings delegated their authority- the righteous King of Israel, David; and Christ the King.

The delegations carry with them some important advice.  David tells his son to always, always, obey the law of God.  Jesus tells his disciples to preach repentance; meaning that the folks in the towns they visited needed to mend their lives in accordance with the law of God.

However, there are some differences as well.  David’s delegation of authority carried the full weight of the government.  After all, he was the earthly King of Israel.  Jesus delegation of authority was totally outside either the political or religious governing bodies.  Jesus was heralding a “new way of living”.  Jesus was asking folks, through the “Church” he was forming to convert the minds and hearts of the people to repent , without the legal weight of the government.

Just who should we listen to these days?  The Government?  The media?  Charismatic  self-proclaimed experts?  Information and pundits are prolific in our society.  All of us have access to hundreds of TV and Radio Stations;  an infinite resource of information sources over the Internet; and more books, periodicals, and other written sources than one can imagine.  And lots of the information we hear conflicts.  Political commentators conflict on root causes of problems and there are many views on moral standards because of the acceptance of pluralistic views on religion, all of which vie for our time and claim to have the truth, the answer to what life is all about.  Just who should we listen to?

The answer rests in what real authority is.  The root meaning of authority in this sense of the word is simply this:  They were given power by the legitimate source of power.  David was the King of God’s chosen people, the people of God in the Old Testament.  Jesus is Christ the King, the King of all mankind in the New Covenant.  Jesus has the legitimate power to delegate, and his message is pure and unencumbered by earthly corruption.  The Apostles didn’t assume this power; they were given this power by Jesus.  So, the message was not their message; it was God’s message.

Now, the Apostles were told not to take anything extra.  In other words, they weren’t bringing their own message forward; and they weren’t asking for anything of material value in return for it.  They were neutral; they had nothing personal to gain.  They were messengers who were simply following God’s will for them.  They had the simplest and most pure motivation, their enthusiasm for the message of Jesus.  Lastly, they had faith, great faith- the kind of faith that David speaks about in his parting words on his deathbed.  David told Solomon to always, always obey the Lord in all things, never questioning the law.  That takes tremendous faith.    And because they had these simple characteristics- faith, authority, and purity of purpose; they were able to work wonders as they moved through the people, driving away unclean spirits, curing the lame, and healing the sick.

In the politically correct, pluralistic , secular society in which we live  Who should we listen to?  Our government? Wikipedia? The latest silver tongued “feel-good” preacher?   Or do we listen to people who are like the Apostles that Jesus sent out.  The choice is yours.  As for me, I’ll stay with the Church.

Speaking With Authority

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dt 18: 15-20; 1 Cor 7: 32-35; Mark 1: 21-28

Deacon Larry Brockman


There’s no lack of folks speaking on moral issues in our time.  We have all those televangelists out there; and all those folks on Christian radio filling the airways.  And there are spokespeople for all the denominations of Churches.  And then there are the secular moral advocates.  They say different things about important issues on faith and morals.  So, how do you know when God is speaking to you through these people?  Well, you should look for someone who speaks with “authority”.   

The dictionary defines authority as “power to exercise judgment, make decisions, or command that something be done”.  It was clear that God tells Moses that he will raise up prophets from among the Jews who will talk in God’s name.  Clearly, those prophets spoke with authority- God given authority because God granted them the power to speak in His name.  And during the course of Old Testament History, God did use His prophets to shepherd His people.  He warned them when they began to go astray; he told them what to look for in a Messiah; and he consoled them with hope when they were in exile.   

But along with the real prophets, there were many false prophets.  These prophets may have had power granted to them by their rulers or have assumed authority by virtue of their knowledge.  But their message was flawed, because the authority they claimed came from the wrong power, not the power of God.   

The people of the Old Testament frequently ignored, and even persecuted the real prophets because they prophesied things the people did not want to hear.  Unfortunately, God’s real message is often something we don’t want to hear.  So, we need to be in tune for what constitutes real authority, not what constitutes the most palatable message.   

In Jesus day, the Scribes and Pharisees supposedly spoke with authority.  Their authority was based on scripture- literal interpretation of Jewish law derived from the Jewish scriptures.  In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus speaking with authority.  Jesus, as God become man, had authority by virtue of the power of God.  When Jesus spoke, things happened- demons were driven out; and people were cured.  But more than that when Jesus spoke, the words had a ring of truth to them.  They had a quality that cut through the arguments of the Jewish leaders of the time.  Jesus words contradicted strict observance of the law because His authority was based on God’s will, and God’s will was that we act with a loving heart.   

Now Jesus delegated his authority to the Church on Holy Thursday when he commissioned the Apostles to go out and Baptize everyone and to celebrate the Eucharist, a sharing of His own body and Blood.   So, the Church shares real authority just like the Old Testament Prophets did.   

Nowadays, there are many self- proclaimed experts who compete with the Church.  Some are the televangelists and radio evangelists who speak for competing denominations.   And to be sure, many of them spread God’s word and do much good.  But they sometimes fall into the same trap as the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus time by emphasizing the Bible alone.  That is because the real authority comes from God; not directly from man’s interpretation of the Bible.   

Others speak with secular authority; a sort of pluralistic authority that takes into account multiple faiths and cultures.  Today, these “authorities” are attempting to impose a new way of thinking about marriage, homosexuality, individual rights and a host of other issues involving faith and morals.   

What matters in the end, is whether or not they speak with real authority.  They don’t, because the only real authority on these issues is God and God speaks through His Church.    In the last several years, I have come to appreciate the Catholic Catechism more and more.  The Catechism is a document that speaks with authority.  The arguments cut through the secular mishmash of today, and provide clear guidance for moral issues that have been clouded up by the false prophets of today.  I urge all of you to consult the Catechism for the truth because the Church speaks with the authority of God.