Dear Parishioners & Visitors,
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
The listeners of Jesus were astonished because he taught them as one having authority. His words were not grounded on others' authority but on himself. He spoke in the name of the Father and his message resounded in their hearts.
Though people were astonished, that did not mean that they liked his message, because his message challenged many of their religious and devotional traditions. The Sadducees did not like when he spoke of resurrection and angels. The Pharisees did not like what he had to say about their mechanical following of the letter of the Mosaic Law and their judging of other people's lives. Jesus' words were at times harsh to listen to and even harsher to accept. His teachings were forcing people to expand their understanding of who God was and how God loved us. Jesus' words of truth brought many to hate him and produce his violent death.
We live in times of many voices; voices that try to redefine for us the meaning of truth, of who we are and how we are supposed to lead our lives. Amidst the noise of these many voices, it is not easy at times to recognize the voice of Jesus, the one who spoke with authority. How to discern among the many voices? How to listen to the voice of the Master?
In the Catholic Church we have the advantage to know whom to listen to and how to listen. We know, as part of the content of our faith, that Jesus gave to Peter and the other Apostles the power to bind and loose, the power of the keys. And our faith tells us that these powers are passed onto their successors.
These powers connote the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. We are not left alone. The voice of the Master still reaches us through the voice of the Bishop of Rome and the College of Bishops. And they do speak with clarity and ;authority. We might not always like what they tell us; but at the end we have to be able to put to the side the cafeteria approach to the Church. It is not about liking or disliking. It is about listening to the voice and obeying it.
- fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.