The Authority of God

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Saint John Damascene, Priest, Religious and Doctor—Optional Memorial

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:8–9

These are words spoken by a man who is very familiar with the exercise of authority. He is a Roman centurion, and he states that he himself is “a man subject to authority” and that he also has soldiers who are subject to him. Thus, his daily life consists of following orders and giving orders that are to be obeyed.

When authority is exercised properly, it is a gift that helps to order society, family life, the life of the Church and even our personal lives. Of course, when authority is exercised improperly, in an oppressive and abusive way, it causes much damage. But the exercise of authority is, in and of itself, an act that has the potential to do much good.

Jesus Himself is quite impressed with the Roman centurion in the Gospel passage quoted above. Of him, Jesus states, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Imagine having the Son of God say that about you! Jesus is impressed, in part, because the centurion acknowledges that he is not worthy to have Jesus come to his house. This is humility, in that the centurion clearly perceives his unworthiness. But Jesus is also impressed because the man manifests a clear and certain faith in Jesus’ authority to heal his servant from a distance. He does not hesitate to profess his belief in this authority of our Lord.

In our own lives, we are often lacking in this area. We face a difficulty (such as the illness this centurion’s servant was enduring), and instead of turning to God with full and unwavering confidence, we turn in on ourselves. We become anxious, fearful, doubtful, confused and sometimes even angry. When any of these qualities are present, it is not because of the difficult situation we face; rather, it is because of our lack of faith and our lack of confidence in the all-powerful authority of our Lord.

In the case of the Roman centurion’s servant, it was the will of God that Jesus physically heal, and so He did. But in the countless daily challenges we face in life, God’s answers might be varied. One unwavering quality we must always have is a certain conviction that God desires to exercise His loving authority in our lives, in the way He chooses, if we trust Him and invite Him to take control.

Reflect, today, upon the perfection of the authority of Christ. Do you believe that He can exercise His perfection of power in your life? Do you believe that His authority is what is needed to order your life, your family, our Church and even our world? Prayerfully submit yourself to the authority of Christ this day and allow yourself to become amazed as you witness all that He is able to do.

All-powerful Father, I entrust to You my life and every situation in my life that needs Your power and control. Please bring order and harmony to my life and to the lives of those around me. May all Your children learn to more fully entrust themselves to You as their loving God. Jesus, I trust in You.