We All Live Under Authority!
Saturday of Week 12 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II
Lam. 2:2, 1-14, 18-19 & Mt. 8:5-17
The Book of Lamentations has been called the 'Book of Tears' as it expresses the agony, distress, horror and grief over the fall of Jerusalem. When reading today's passage my thoughts went straight to the bombed towns of Syria and the devastation, desolation and weeping. It appears the only One who can help them is the Lord. “Stretch out your hands to Him for the lives of your children who faint with hunger at the entrance to every street.”
When reading these words we can also picture a soul without grace, a soul buried in sin. Again the only One who can lift it back to a life of grace is the Lord.
A centurion in the Roman army came to Jesus in today's Gospel seeking help for one of his sick servants. We find him respectful, twice addressing Jesus as 'Sir,' and humble, saying to the Lord, 'I am not worthy to have you under my roof.' He is compassionate, showing concern for one of his slaves which would not have been common at the time.
We could profitably consider any of these traits of his character but I want to focus of his understanding of authority. He expressed the conviction that Jesus could heal his servant by simply giving the command. It was not necessary for Him to be physically present. We can only marvel as to how he had such a knowledge of Jesus' powers.
Then the centurion went on to explain his conviction of what Jesus could do by exercising the power of His authority. 'I am a man under authority myself, and I have soldiers assigned to me. If I tell one man to go, he goes. If I tell another man to come, he comes.'
This centurion was a man of remarkable insight. He understood the two sides of authority - submission to it and exercise of it. We are all involved in both. Jesus could exercise the power of God because He lived in submission to the authority of God. The centurion could give directives and expect them to be obeyed because he, himself, was under the authority of Rome.
Those two factors are also functioning in your life and mine.
We all have some aspects of authority in which we call the shots, make the decisions, exercise the vetoes. Life thrusts that upon us. It may only be in our own heart and our own home. For parents it may be primarily their children. For the teacher it is in the classroom for their students. For executives it includes their business and employees. How we handle the authority depends upon our own submission to authority.
It can be a frightening thing for parents to realise that they are in charge of a young life and most of the final decisions are theirs to make. That is an awesome responsibility. There is nothing that I can say to make your job any easier! But I can say that if you, yourself, are under the authority of Christ, if your life is ruled by His principles of love, fairness, kindness, patience, openness, truth and understanding, then you can exercise your authority with confidence. You will do a good job and in the end your children, we hope, will grow to respect and not resent you.
Lord Jesus let us realise that the proper exercise of authority always depends upon our submission to authority. If we gladly serve the Lord when we exercise authority we, too, will be ready to serve others.