Posts Tagged ‘Church authority’

The Church Speaks the Truth!

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dt 18: 15-20; 1 Cor 7: 32-35; Mark 1: 21-28
Deacon Larry Brockman

I suppose it’s just human nature, but the fact is that people just don’t like to hear the plain truth. And they especially react to the truth when it is spoken with Authority. This is typical in today’s world because many people question absolutes. And yet, the truth is in fact an absolute, isn’t it.

And so when someone comes along who speaks the truth- the plain, unfiltered truth- and that person has authority to back them up, well, that is threatening because it means no amount of, wells, yes buts, on the other hands, and the like matter. The person in authority can and will be able to counter them. Evil reacts to truth presented this way.

What is an absolute truth, for example? Well, there either is a God or not. If there is a God, then certain things are morally wrong because they go against God and his plan for creation. And so, there is such a thing as sin. That also means there are truths that flow from the basic truth. God exists, and moral right and wrong and sin flow from that basic truth as a consequence.

Now in the Old Testament, the Israelis were exposed to the plain, unfiltered truth when God spoke directly to them. They didn’t like that; it was fearful because the voice of the Lord and the fire that accompanied it terrified them. And so they pleaded with Moses to appeal to the Lord for a softer approach. Today we hear from Moses that God promised to send them prophets like himself.

Notice that God will put his words in these prophets’ mouths. So, even though the prophets were to act as a buffer, they were still speaking the truth; and God told the people to listen to them. The authority of the prophets was established by the works they performed- a series of miracles and accurate predictions of the future. But make no mistake about it their main purpose was to tell the truth, God’s truth. They did that faithfully, even though many of them suffered greatly as a consequence. For example, Jeremiah was thrown in a cistern and left to die and Isaiah was sawn in two.

Of course, Moses promise was also fulfilled by Jesus Christ as well. Jesus was the word of God incarnate, and spoke the unfiltered word of his Father.

Now the Gospel says that Jesus spoke with authority. If one has “authority”, that means they have the right to do what they are doing. In government, authority is acquired by being elected, or by designation form a higher authority. In education, authority is established through knowledge of the topic. When speaking on behalf of God, authority is established by the ability to show the works of God.

Certainly, the Old Testament prophets established their authority by working miracles and by accurately predicting the future. Jesus worked even greater miracles, and thereby established his authority. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus’ authority has more of the authority that comes from educational knowledge to start out with. For Jesus was teaching, and he spoke about God with the ring of truth that not even the “authorities” of the Jewish faith, the Chief Priests and Rabbis could compete with. This frightened the evil spirit in the man in the temple just as the truth always frightens those who are evil. The evil spirit basically validated Jesus’ authority by recognizing Jesus for what he is- the Son of God.

It is just as essential for us to listen to God’s prophets and to listen to Jesus today as it was for the people in Moses time and in Jesus’ time. That is the basic message in both the Gospel and our first Reading. The problem is that our world is full of authorities- people who are experts, people to whom elected officials have delegated power. Our challenge is to determine which voices out there hold legitimate authority and then to listen to the truth that is spoken by the legitimate authority.

The best place to start is with the Church. Jesus delegated his authority to his Apostles and Disciples. And this has been embellished by the great doctors of the Church and Saints over the last two thousand years. We have an obligation to listen to the Lord speak through his Church. The Church speaks the truth; and the truth will set us free- forever.

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.