Jesus said to his disciples, ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!
‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’
Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.
Two thoughts struck me as I heard this reading this morning. First is the difference between power and authority. Jesus spoke with authority though his use of power was confined to acts of healing. He certainly did not use power in his defense as he allowed himself to be led to the cross. I think that today we confuse the notions of authority and power. In today's example, Bishop Henry has the authority but the power rests squarely with the secular authorities, the school boards and the teacher's union. Nor is this entirely inappropriate since God's grace is made manifest in weakness.
The other thought that occurred to me was that St. Francis felt it necessary to travel to Rome to obtain the approval of Pope Innocent III once he had discerned the call of God and had gathered a few followers. God had told him in a vision "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." Why, then, the trip to Rome? Today's gospel offers an answer... he wished to build his house upon rock. St. Francis was even ordained a deacon to give him the right to preach.
In the Catholic Church everyone is submitted to some authority since God established it as a hierarchy. Everyone has an ordinary or a religious superior to whom they are responsible. It is this organic connection to authority, to the magisterium, that tells us and everyone else that we are the real thing. In this age of mass communication anyone can present themselves as a preacher or teacher and many do. The first question that should be asked of such people is "To whose authority are you submitted and by whose authority do you preach?" Anyone who cannot answer this should be viewed with suspicion.
One final thought, suggested by someone who whispered in my ear this past Saturday. Michael Voris would do well to follow the example of St. Francis and go to Rome to gain approval for his enterprise.