Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reflection on Matthew 8:5-11

Jesus expresses amazement at the faith of the centurion - a faith that came from his understanding of the relationship between authority and obedience. His soldiers obeyed him because he was obedient to Caesar and therefore he had the entire weight of the Roman Empire behind his commands. The centurion saw that Jesus had supernatural authority. It came from his obedience to God the Father. For the centurion, the link between obedience and authority was obvious.

We live in confusing times when many are losing their faith. They listen to the world and ask, "Why doesn't the Church change this or that teaching?" Some seem to think that the Church's teachings should be decided by a poll. But the Church is the Body of Christ and it is under authority. It must be obedient to God. It can't make up new teachings or change old ones. If it did, it would lose its authority and become one opinion among many.

Before we receive communion we remember the words of the centurion: "Lord, I am not worthy." We can receive this marvelous gift because the priest has the authority to change ordinary bread into the Blessed Sacrament. He has the authority because the Church has the authority to ordain priests. This authority comes from obedience.

Dale O'Leary