I try to make it my personal habit to not create a big
deal about the appeal. When you ask people for money, my personal
feeling is to keep things simple and uncomplicated.
Personally, when I’m asked to give to a worthy cause, I resist as
soon as I start to get the feeling the person asking is getting even
a little bit too pushy. For myself, I call it the “Used Car Sales
Alert.” If you’ve ever been to a used car lot you know what I’m
My game plan for this week is to give you the basics
as part of my homily and the following week lead you through the
process which will be a little different in this pandemic universe. I
promise, I’ll try to keep it as painless as possible. After that,
we’ll have one more weekend before Lent begins. We’ll use that to
wrap up with an announcement about anyone who has not yet had the
opportunity to engage in the appeal.
Now, I want to spend a little time on the Gospel for
this week. It deals with an early event in our Lord’s public ministry
that establishes Jesus as not just another teacher of the Torah or
the Law of Moses. It deals with the idea of authority. Specifically,
why did people accept the teachings of Jesus? We are told that they
were “astonished” at his teaching. We are told that he spoke with authority.
Authority plays an interesting role in human affairs.
In many cases we can easily see the truth of it. We deal with
authority in what’s usually called a black and white fashion. For
example, an encounter with a police officer on the road. When he or
she asks for your driver’s license, you give it. When your employer
requests something, you comply. Parents dealing with children,
hopefully kids recognize the authority of parents. These tend
to be circumstances where authority is easily seen.
Where the whole business of authority gets a bit gray
and less black and white is in those areas of life where we need more
to convince us of the truth of authority either in a person or what
they say. For example, when a young person says something with authority
to an elder. Inevitably the elder may want or should want more
than the word of the young person.
In education, this comes about in a formalized way
when young people begin to exercise their intellect and start writing
essays and term papers. The teacher needs to know that what the
student says in writing is truly authentic and not just some form of
idle speculation. Students have to show that their authority to speak
on matters is not from themselves alone. This is why we
As with education, so too with religious issues and
the spiritual life. In Jesus’ time the normal way that someone gained
credibility as an authority was to learn from others on how to
interpret the law and the prophets. This model and the commentaries
that came out of this tradition still are the normative way that the
Jewish Tradition seeks to relate their tradition to leading a good
life in the covenant. In turn this same model led to the development
of our theology and our morality in the Christian Tradition.
In the case of Jesus though, we have something unique.
We are told in the gospel today that he did not speak with authority
in the same way that the scribes and pharisees did. They tended to
comment on the law and the prophets from what they had learned from
others. In the case of Jesus, we are confronted with something
What makes this whole scene even more fascinating, is
the way that the authority of Jesus is validated. Read Mark 1:21-28
to see who confirms that Jesus truly has authority.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph B. Pierce