19 January 2011

A bit more from today's Catechesis...

The fourth commandment confronts us with the word "authorities."  "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise our parents and other authorities."  Let us make no mistake about the contempt with which the old Adam in us despises every authority - and fears it!  For he sees it as his rival.  He wants to be THE authority:  "I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it."  Authority for him can only be viewed as a rival that needs to be destroyed.

And yet how far this darkness is from the Light of God's love!  Our loving God provides authorities in our lives to SERVE us, to BLESS us, indeed to FREE us.  The old Adam is convinced freedom is constituted in nothing interfering with him doing whatever he wants to do; and he is blind as a bat to the fact that such "freedom" has left him utterly enslaved to his own passions.  Free?  He's not free at all!  Our loving God provides authorities in our lives that we might discover that true freedom is not found in some vicious autonomy; it is found in SERVING.

When we come to see the authorities in our lives as masks of God Himself, in which He is at work to bless us, how transformed becomes our view of them!  And the call to honor them, serve and obey, love and cherish them takes on a whole new light.  We know Him who meets us in them.  His hands bear the scars of His service to us!

It should go without saying that since those in authority remain sinners, they sometimes forget that they are there to serve and bless and so it is entirely possible for them to fail in the task given and become little autocrats themselves.  Even then, the Catechism teaches us to honor the office, even if the person who holds it is less than honorable in their actions, to honor the office they hold and recognize what God intended it to be.

Certainly Scripture teaches a clear limit on authorities:  we must obey God rather than man.  Yet wherever we can obey without disobeying God, we will find the authority is a gift indeed!  Here God gives us the gift of an arena where the old Adam gets to be done to death and the new self learns to arise and live in joyous service, receiving blessing from the hands of God.

When we study Luke 2, we see what is perhaps the most amazing honoring of authority that ever occurred.  God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, the freest man who ever lived - indeed, the only true free one - submits Himself to his Mother and foster-father.  Could God teach us any more clearly how wrong we are in our fear of authority?  If GOD honors the authority thusly, how can we not?

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