WITH ST. MARY'S
THE THIRTY-FIRST IN ORDINARY TIME
Remain obedient despite hypocrisy or scandal so virtue can build up the whole Body of Christ.
THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Within the Catholic Church, there are a plethora of devotions, apostolates, orders, and ways in which the faithful can get involved in the daily life of the community. The purpose of such ecclesiastical diversity is so that everyone’s strengths may be utilized according to how they live best, serve best, and learn best. One of the very things that is expected of all Catholics, though, is one simple virtue: obedience. We call this a virtue because it enables us to live according to how we were created: simultaneously needy of the loving protection of those above us, as well as the immense responsibility for caring for those who live under our authority.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
The first step that Satan will utilize to turn us away from God is to undermine the important virtue of obedience. In the garden, the serpent influenced Adam and Eve in such a way that led to them being disobedient to God. In the modern age, the influence of Evil has become more creative and far more effective: the world tells us to “discover ourselves” by carving out a life designed by us alone, seeking out the things that make us feel good on our own, and by shedding that which ties us to something greater than ourselves - obedience to a higher authority. Even the Church has been susceptible to this influence by the devil. Hubris led heretics to disobey the Magisterium in the early days, politics and in-fighting led to the Great Schism, rejection of any earthly authority led to the thousands of Protestant denominations, and the hypocrisy and cruelty of misguided bishops and priests have led to plummeting numbers in the Church en masse. There are usually two reasons why we might also feel a pull towards disobedience to the Church: either we are being selfish and want the Church to conform to our worldview, or we are feeling forced to disobey truly erroneous and dangerous instructions by our Church leaders. If you want the Church to change its teachings to fit your worldview, you can be assured that you are in the wrong; you must submit yourself to the authority of the Magisterium as Christ instructed us. But if you are in the much more difficult position of being faithful either to the Church or to bad leaders, the answer remains simple, because Christ tells us exactly what to do in this Sunday’s Gospel: Because the scribes and Pharisees are in the authoritative position of being in the chair of Moses, Christ demands that his followers do and observe all things whatsoever they them. If someone occupies a chair of authority in Christ’s Church (which is far more authoritative than the chair of Moses), whether that is the chair of Peter, the chair of a Cathedral, or a presider’s chair in a local parish, we must do and observe what they tell us.Still, Christ will never condone the dangerous words and actions of bad leaders; we are to do and observe all that our leaders tell us, just as the Jews were commanded to do and observe all that the scribes and Pharisees told them, but we are not to follow their hypocritical example. Christ and the men he chose to lead the Church were inspired and protected by the Holy Spirit when they set forth the doctrines and teachings of this Church. It was through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that these doctrines were codified and we have immediate access to them, regardless of our position within the Church. You have not been appointed Pope, Bishop, or Priest. You have been appointed by God as a member of the faithful, to be obedient to Him through His Church. This is why it is crucial that we familiarize ourselves with Church teaching, so that we may remain obedient to Christ when he tells us to obey our leaders even when they are wrong, but also so that we may protect ourselves from the hypocrisy of sinful disobedience