Thursday February 7, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12) Gospel (St. Mark 6:7-13)
In the readings today, we see authority being handed over. In the first reading, we see the authority of David being handed over to his son Solomon, as the authority of kingship in Israel was going to be an office of succession: when one king would die or be removed, someone else would take his place. It only makes perfect sense that it would be that way. In the Gospel reading, we also see authority being passed on: Jesus, giving some of His authority to the apostles so that they would go out and preach the need for repentance, that they would be able to heal the sick and to anoint the people and so on.
We see, then, that authority in the Church is also passed on. This, again, makes perfect sense because Our Lord Himself tells us many times in the Scriptures that what He has come to do is to establish a kingdom. He says, over and over, things like "The kingdom of God is within. The reign of Godů" He talks all about kingship and about reign. This being the case, we see that Jesus has founded a kingdom, and the kingdom is within each one of us. The kingdom of Jesus Christ is His Church; therefore, Jesus reigns over the Church. But because Our Lord is in Heaven, He has also established a physical reign, a visible kingship, if you want to call it that. And it is Saint Peter whom He made His Prime Minister. That is an office, once again, of succession. But there were also others who were part of the leadership in the kingdom of Christ. Those would be the apostles and their successors, the bishops. That, too, would be an office of succession. Just as it is on the natural level, so it is on the spiritual level, in this case. The Lord has established a kingdom. He has given authority over to those who are to run His kingdom.
Each one of us who are baptized into Jesus Christ also share in the life and the authority of Jesus Christ - in a different way than what the hierarchy does, but nonetheless, each one of us shares in that authority of Christ. Each one of us is priest, prophet, and king because Jesus is Priest, Prophet, and King. We see it on the level of the Church: On the universal as well as the local level, we have a bishop, we have priests, and we have deacons exercising that threefold office. Each one of us also does the same. So, on both levels, whether it is on the large scale of seeing how the government of the Church is established or whether it is within our individual lives, we are each to come into line with Jesus, each one of us is to be obedient, each one of us is to offer sacrifice, each one of us is to be of service as we fulfill those three offices that we received in Baptism. Each one, then, taking part in the work of the Church, and the Church is Jesus Christ. Each one of us taking part in the work of Christ, that is what the Lord is calling us to.
So when we see that He gives this authority to His apostles to go out and to preach and to heal and so on, we all share in that. When we hear what Our Lord promised to David - that as long as his sons remained faithful to the Lord, one of his sons would be on the throne for all time - that same thing would be said for each one of us: As long as we remain faithful to the Lord, that authority which has been given will continue to be passed along. And it will be exercised as long as we remain faithful; that is the condition. It is not something which is given for our abuse, but rather, it is given for us to be able to use to build up the kingdom of God. The Lord has given each of us a share in His authority to be able to use for the service of others and for the greater glory of God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.