One of the things that young people today seem to be rejecting today is any sense of external authority. Our lives are becoming more and more individualistic and we relate with others only when we have to or when it pleases us to do so. That is, we want everything to be on our own terms. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, it is not far from the truth! Less and less are people looking for authoritative advice – we want to make up our own minds regarding whatever the matter may be. This may sound all right at first; however, on a closer examination we will discover that there is something fundamentally wrong in this attitude! What is it?

 

If the world is not to descend into some sort of anarchic state where everyone does as they themselves please, there has to be some sort of external measure by which we can judge right and wrong. The Church has always affirmed this truth and taught that all human beings are required to act within the bounds of the Natural Law, that law which is inherent in our beings as human. To be human means to act according to a certain set of rules that is the same for all people and is designed to protect the dignity of the human person. The Natural Law finds its origin in the Eternal Law of God and in a sense came into being when God chose to create human persons.

 

In the Gospel Jesus gives Peter and the other apostles a mandate to be the arbiters of the law within the Church. This is necessary as someone has to have the final say on an issue. It is never just an open question where any old answer will do. This authority extends to the fields of faith and morals, that is, the two areas of our lives that have to do with protecting the nature of our faith and human dignity. Without this authority resting in a person or persons, the Church will quickly disintegrate into many different little groups all with a slightly different set of beliefs. This is clearly unacceptable if we want to talk about there being one Church giving a united witness to Christ. This is why the various schisms and today’s multitude of denominations are a scandal to the Gospel!

 

We ought to give thanks that Jesus has left us with a structure of authority to lead and guide the Church through the many difficult situations she will encounter. Let us do our best to live our lives in submission to the Church’s teaching.

 

What attitude do I have to authority in my life? Am I humble enough to admit that I need help to discover the truth and what is best for me in my life?

 

Lord Jesus, the type of authority that you modeled for the apostles was one of service! True authority seeks to place itself at the service of the people that it seeks to serve. Lord, I pray that you will raise up leaders in the Church who will be the servants of God’s People!