True Authority

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Today

All Saints for Today

“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you.”  Mark 10:42-43a

It has been said that “absolute power corrupts absolutely!”  This means that when one is entrusted with power and authority, there is a great temptation for that person to let it go to his or her head.  Having authority, especially over others, is difficult to exercise in charity and humility.  Very difficult.  The passage above points out that the “rulers over the gentiles lord it over them, and that their great ones make their authority over them felt.”  This acknowledges a tendency among rulers and those in authority to make sure others know who is in charge! 

But Jesus gives this illustration because He wanted to point out to His disciples that they had to act in the opposite way.  Soon, they would be given great authority.  Not authority in a worldly sense.  They would not take on civil leadership and govern the country with power.  Rather, the authority they would receive was much greater.  It was the authority of changing lives for all eternity.  They were being entrusted with the task of spreading the Word of God in such a way that people’s hearts would change and remain changed.  But to do this effectively, they could not follow the example of worldly leaders.  They could not force or impose the Gospel on others.  Rather, they had to enter into the depths of humility and serve out of love.  This was the only way that the Gospel could effectively change lives.

There are many lessons here for us.  One that stands out is in regard to the way we relate to one another, especially those closest to us.  Often, there is a tendency to impose our way and our will on others just as a powerful and selfish king may do.  We want to be in charge and dictate others’ actions.  But if we want to be true leaders, exercising true authority, we must come to realize that we are called to serve with humility.  Otherwise, we may “win” the argument or get our way, but we will not change hearts, minds and souls.  But that is what our constant goal in life must be!

The exercise of Christ’s authority is glorious and is what we should all strive for.  Think about it.  Is it better to take delight in the fleeting pleasure of being the boss here and now, or is it better to enjoy the knowledge that you were able to help transform another person for eternity?  In Heaven, it will not matter who was “in charge.”  But what will matter is whose lives were changed because we acted on the authority of humility and service.

Reflect, today, on this tendency you may have to be in charge and lord authority over others.  Then think of the ideal of this Gospel passage.  Pray that our Lord will give you the humble gift of being a servant.

Lord, I do want to serve.  I want to serve You in others.  I pray for humility so that You can use me to be an instrument of Your divine authority of love.  Jesus, I trust in You.