“The Devil doesn’t fear austerity but holy obedience.”– St. Francis de Sales
(Gospel Text: MK 1:21-28)
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus said to his apostles: "Full authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Mt 28:18-20).
But Christ also speaks to us today with his authority through the teaching of the Catholic Church, to whom he gave his own amazing authority to continue his saving work.
He gave that authority in a special way to the visible head of the Church he founded. He told Peter that he was the rock on whom he was going to build his Church and then gave him the authority to open and lock the way to heaven: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:19).
The Church firmly believes that that authority was passed down to St. Peter's successors all the way to Pope Benedict. Christ also gave his authority to the apostles as a whole (and their successors, the bishops) so that they could, as ambassadors, teach authoritatively in his name, "Whoever hears you hears me, and whoever rejects you rejects me" (Lk 10:16).
Do we follow it, ignore, or resist the Lord as he teaches us in Sacred Scripture, or through his Vicars on earth, or through the successors of the apostles? Do we trust in our own opinions more than we trust what he has said, done and established?
St. John Marie Vianney addresses one of the biggest obstacles for us when it comes to grasping this truth, "I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures."
We need to overcome the mindset, that we learned everything we need to know about the faith by the time we were confirmed (i.e. age 14).
It's simply not true.
There's so much to learn, and this truth will set our lives free.