4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
February 1, 2015
Moses was a great authority for his leadership among the Israelites. He was the one who acted as an intermediary between God and the people. He was the one who received the Ten Commandments from the Lord.
Moses was seen as an authority on all matters of faith. As he write the Book of Deuteronomy, the Israelites are preparing to enter the Promised Land but Moses will not go with him. He will die as the people enter the Promised Land.
Knowing he will not be going with them, Moses speaks of an authority to come after him. He is immediately succeeded by Joshua. Joshua, in turn, is succeeded by a series of “judges” and then by a series of kings down through the ages. None of them lend as Moses did.
Now here comes Jesus. As he speaks to the people they are astonished at his teaching. Why? Normally the scribes did much of the teaching. They were the ones with the official schooling to do so. As scribes, they were part of the official authorities of the church.
So it is peculiar that the people would see him “as one having authority and not as the scribes.” It would seem that while the scribes had authority from their position, they did not earn the respect of the people.
Whatever they felt was missing in the scribes, they found in Jesus. Perhaps it was creditability. The scribes taught from the Hebrew Scriptures but some did not practice what they preached. They commanded obedience but did little to help the people. They were prideful about their status. They were supposed to be the religious experts but they fell short in a true understanding of what the scriptures meant.
Now, here comes Jesus. He does not speak pride fully. He shows compassion for the poor and helps people in need. He shows he cares. He speaks from the heart. In him the people see authority that they want to listen to.
Where do you turn to for authority on religious matters?
Ideally, I have some authority on religious matters but I have to admit I don’t know everything, nobody does. Do I speak with creditability? I hope so. I try to practice what I preach but I struggle.
Certainly our bishop holds a position of authority in our church along with the pope. We can read the documents they write and listen to what they have to say but we aren’t likely to get to ask the Pope questions of faith individually. Even with the bishop, this doesn’t happen much.
I try to do what I can but I know it isn’t enough. Where else can we try for answers about our faith?
We should start with the Bible, words inspired by God, and then the Catechism of the Catholic Church and related writings but I think more and more people are going to the Internet for answers.
There is good information available on the Internet. You can find the Bible and the Catechism there. You can also find a vast array of the documents written by the popes on the Vatican website. There are lots of Catholic organizations with websites along with individuals like myself posting information on the Internet.
Can we count on it all being good information? No. Anyone can post on the Internet. I remember when I first came back to church and I went to look something upon the Internet. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I was looking for. I typed in what I was looking for in an Internet search engine and clicked on the first website that came up. As I read, it wasn’t sure it was what I was looking for. As I read I came across a sentence that referred to the Catholic Church as a “false religion,” definitely not what I was looking for.
Unfortunately it isn’t always that easy to know when material isn’t good. People can write like experts and have no real education. Others write deliberately or to mislead. There are some people who don’t understand themselves.
How are we supposed to know who to listen to?
Obviously the popes are good authorities but even there we have to consider who is writing. The news media seems to be taking Pope Francis out of context a lot.
With others we need to do some research to know who is writing but I think step one can begin with asking the question, does what the person writes agree with what I already know? Does it agree with the Bible? Does it refer to Bible passages or official church documents? If not, where does their information come from?
We need to put effort into learning more about our faith but we need to get our information from people speaking with true authority. What do you do to come closer to God?