Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Authority in the Church

"Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth...you are God's field, God's building." I Cor 3: 7, 9

Division in any community or family is discouraging at best and seriously destructive at worst. St Paul knew this and when he experienced deep divisions in the church at Corinth he did everything he could to address them. It also seems clear that these divisions worried him, not only because they were counter to the spirit of the Gospel, but because the community at Corinth was very small, and Paul was afraid it would shatter.

All of this makes it important to attend to and pray about the divisions in the church in the United States today. More and more people, hurt and angry about what appears to them either as a turning away from the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, or a refusal to be faithful to the teaching magisterium of the church, are sharply divided over many issues from the treatment of women to the role of the church in politics.

Underneath all these divisions, however, is the question of the legitimate power and authority of the bishops, and it seems that Paul's reminder today might help all. If we are God's field, God's building, then bishops, priests, religious and laity need to work together against divisions that pit us against one another unnecessarily. Finding common ground and working together on projects that foster the common good and justice in the world might be a good place to start.

Today, give God an opportunity to give you growth by letting go of something that divides you from other believers.

What is the proper role of authority in the church?

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