Monsignor Yennock on Staying or Leaving (Authority) - Homily from February 16, 2020

Feb 18, 2020

SIXTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME FEB. 16, 2020

STAYING OR LEAVING (AUTHORITY)

IN TODAY’S GOSPEL JESUS ASTOUNDED THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO WERE LISTENING TO HIM. HE SPOKE WITH AN AUTHORITY WHICH NO OTHER MAN HAD EVER DREAMED OF ASSUMING.

AT THE END OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT MATTHEW SAYS: “THE CROWDS WERE ASTOUNDED AT HIS TEACHING FOR HE TAUGHT THEM AS ONE WHO HAD AUTHORITY AND NOT AS THE SCRIBES. (Matt. 7:28-29)

JESUS TOOK THE HIGHEST WISDOM OF MEN AND CORRECTED IT. HE DID NOT NEED TO ARGUE. IT WAS SUFFICIENT FOR HIM TO SPEAK BECAUSE HE WAS THE SON OF GOD.  HE SPOKE AS ONE WHO HAD AUTHORITY. WHAT HE TAUGHT WAS GOD’S LAST WORD ON THE SUBJECT. ALL OTHER WISDOM WAS INADEQUATE. ALL OTHER WISDOM WAS OUT OF DATE.

WHEN HE SAID TO THE DISCIPLES: “HE WHO HEARS YOU HEARS ME; HE WHO REJECTS YOU REJECTS ME, AND HE WHO REJECTS ME, REJECTS HIM WHO SENT ME”. HE GAVE THEM THE AUTHORITY TO TEACH DIVINE TRUTH THAT WAS MEANT FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. FOR SOME PEOPLE AUTHORITY IS A NEGATIVE WORD. THEY ARE AFRAID OF IT.

DR.RACHEL LU, A PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AND A CONVERT TO THE CATHOLIC FAITH, GAVE THIS PERSPECTIVE ON AUTHORITY: SHE SAID: “BECAUSE I WAS RAISED IN THE MORMON FAITH, I GET A FAIR NUMBER OF ENQUIRIES THAT SOUND LIKE THIS: “WHY, AFTER ESCAPING FROM ONE OPPRESSIVELY PATRIARCHAL AND AUTHORITARIAN FAITH, WOULD YOU IMMEDIATELY GO RUNNING TO ANOTHER ONE?”

SHE SAID: “THAT’S A GREAT OPENING FOR TALKING ABOUT AUTHORITY AND TRUTH. I TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK THEM:  SUPPOSE THERE WERE AN AUTHORITY OUT THERE THAT RELIABLY PROMOTED THE TRUTH; SUPPOSING THERE WERE AN AUTHORITY OUT THERE THAT CARED ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL WELL-BEING AND WANTED TO UNLOCK YOUR HUMAN POTENTIAL TO A DEGREE YOU CAN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND? WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO STAY CLOSE TO SUCH A LOVING AND BENEVOLENT “AUTHORITY”?

OUR MOTHER CHURCH IS THE LEAST DESPOTIC AUTHORITY IMAGINABLE — AND ALSO THE MOST HUMANE.

OUR HOLY MOTHER, THE CHURCH, HAS EXERCISED HER DIVINE AUTHORITY TO PROTECT THE TEACHING OF JESUS FROM ERROR WHILE SUFFERING RELENTLESS PERSECUTION FOR TWO THOUSAND YEARS.

IT WAS THE CHRIST-LIKE AUTHORITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THAT ENABLED HER TO REFORM THE CHURCH OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

AT THE TIME OF THE PROTESTANT REVOLT IN EUROPE THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH GAVE CONFIDENCE AND ZEAL TO A GREAT NUMBER OF PRIESTS WHO STEPPED FORWARD TO PROTECT THE TEACHING OF JESUS. THEY WERE DETERMINED THAT THE DEVIL WAS NOT GOING TO WIN THE BATTLE FOR SOULS.

ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA REVOLUTIONIZED THE TEACHING OF RELIGION. ST. VINCENT DE PAUL’S CARE FOR THE POOR, SICK, IMPRISONED AND DOWNTRODDEN INSPIRES US EVEN TODAY. ST. JEAN BAPTISTE DE LA SALLE, ST. PETER CANISIUS AND ST. ANGELA MERICI MAGNIFICENTLY EDUCATED YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN. ST. LOUIS DE MONFORT AND ST. TERESA OF AVILA INSPIRED UNTOLD THOUSANDS TO SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD. ST. PETER CLAVER AND PADRE BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS DEMANDED THAT EVEN KINGS TREAT EVERY HUMAN BEING AS GOD’S OWN. ST. JUNIPERO SERRA, ST. ISAAC JOCQUES AND ST. JEAN DE BREBEUF WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO ENRICH THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WITH THE LOVE OF CHRIST. MANY DIED AS MARTYRS. 

 

THOSE WOMEN AND MEN OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY FACED THE SAME UGLINESS THAT WE ARE FACING TODAY. THEY EXPERINCED THE SAME CRISIS AND CHALLENGES THAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING TODAY IN ALL OF OUR INSTITUTIONS. THEY ALSO WERE DISGUSTED, CONFUSED AND ANGRY. BUT THEY REALIZED THAT CHRIST WAS STILL THE INVISIBLE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. THEY WERE DETERMINED TO CONVERT DISGRACE INTO GLORY. 

 

MEN AND WOMEN OF INTELLECT, CULTURE AND ACCOMPLISHMENT HAVE FOUND IN CATHOLICISM WHAT BLESSED JOHN PAUL II CALLED THE “SYMPHONY OF TRUTH.” THAT RICH AND COMPLEX SYMPHONY, AND THE HARMONIES IT OFFERS, IS AN ATTRACTIVE AND COMPELLING ALTERNATIVE TO THE UGLY, IRRATIONAL DIVISIONS THAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY.

AS WE FACE THE INFIDELITY, IMMORALITY AND CORRUPTION IN SOME OF OUR LEADERS AND SOME OF OUR INSTITUTIONS WE CAN EITHER ABANDON HOLY MOTHER CHURCH OR WE CAN JOIN THE COURAGEOUS HEROES AND HEROINES OF THE PAST TO BRING HER OUT OF THE DARKNESS OF HUMAN EVIL INTO THE LIGHT OF DIVINE TRUTH, GOODNESS AND BEAUTY.

A FEW MONTHS AGO, SEAN HANNITY, THE POPULAR FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR, ANNOUNCED THAT HE WAS LEAVING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BECAUSE OF INSTITUTIONALIZED CORRUPTION.

HANNITY IS NOT ALONE. MANY CATHOLICS HAVE CONSIDERED LEAVING THE CHURCH BECAUSE OF SCANDAL AND CORRUPTION.

I AM NOT JUDGING HANNITY OR ANYBODY ELSE WHO IS MAKING A DECISION ABOUT HIS SPIRITUAL LIFE. THAT’S A VERY PRIVATE MATTER.  WE DO NOT KNOW THE SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES OF ANYONE’S SOUL. WE DO NOT KNOW THE LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE OR COMMITMENT THAT A PERSON HAS WHEN HE IS MAKING A FAITH DECISION. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT EXPERIENCES A PERSON HAS IN HIS LIFETIME THAT INFLUENCES SUCH A CRITICAL TIME IN HIS LIFE.

I DID THINK IT CURIOUS THAT SEAN HANNITY WHO LOVES HIS COUNTRY DID NOT LEAVE HIS COUNTRY BECAUSE OF ALL THE CORRUPTION THAT HE FINDS IN SO MANY BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT. HE WORKS 24 HOURS A DAY TO REFORM THE CORRUPTION IN HIS GOVERNMENT. WHY WOULD HE NOT USE HIS FAITH AND HIS TALENTS TO REFORM THE CORRUPTION IN THE CHURCH OF HIS YOUTH THAT HELPED TO MAKE HIM THE MAN THAT HE IS?

WHILE MANY DISILLUSIONED CATHOLICS LEAVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE OF THE SCANDALS, THOUSANDS ENTER BECAUSE THEY ARE CONVINCED THAT THE TEACHING AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH IS THE TEACHING AUTHORITY OF CHRIST HIMSELF.

LAST YEAR OVER 37,000 PEOPLE CAME INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THROUGH THE R.C.I.A. PROGRAM. MANY CAME FROM NO RELIGION. SOME WERE CONVERTS FROM OTHER RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS.

MORE RECENTLY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WAS SHOCKED WHEN THE ANGLICAN BISHOP, GAVIN ASHENDEN ANNOUNCED THAT HE WAS ENTERING THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

BISHOP ASHENDEN WAS A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND'S GENERAL SYNOD FOR 20 YEARS AND WAS APPOINTED A CHAPLAIN TO THE QUEEN IN 2008.

HE RESIGNED FROM THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN 2017, AFTER BEING CONVINCED THAT ORDAINING WOMEN TO THE PRIESTHOOD AND CONSECRATING THEM BISHOPS REPRESENTED THE IMPLOSION OF APOSTOLIC AND BIBLICAL ORDER. HE ALSO DISSENTED FROM THE INCREASING ACCOMMODATION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO RADICAL SECULAR VIEWS ON GENDER THEORY AND OTHER ISSUES.

ASHENDEN REVEALED THREE MAJOR TRUTHS THAT LED HIM TO CATHOLICISM: 

THE FIRST WAS AN EXAMINATION OF THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN THE CHILDREN AND OUR LADY AT GARABANDAL IN 1963. HE SAID: I FOUND THAT OUR LADY'S APPARITIONS, BEGINNING WITH ST.GREGORY IN THE 3RD CENTURY THROUGH TO ZEITOUN IN CAIRO IN 1968 UP TO THE PRESENT DAY DEEPLY COMPELLING."

THE SECOND FACTOR LEADING TO ASHENDEN'S CONVERSION WAS HIS DISCOVERY OF THE PHENOMENA OF EUCHARISTIC MIRACLES."THE FACT THAT THEY WERE UNKNOWN AMONGST THOSE WHO CELEBRATED THE ANGLICAN VERSION OF THE EUCHARIST CARRIES OBVIOUS IMPLICATIONS," HE SAID: "IT IS OF THE GREATEST RELIEF TO BELONG TO THE CHURCH WHERE THE MASS IS TRULY THE MASS."

THE THIRD REASON FOR HIS CONVERSION IS THE MAGISTERIUM, THE TEACHING AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH. HE SAID. "I CAME TO REALIZE THAT ONLY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, WITH THE WEIGHT OF THE MAGISTERIUM, HAD THE ECCLESIAL INTEGRITY, THEOLOGICAL MATURITY AND SPIRITUAL POTENCY TO DEFEND THE FAITH, RENEW SOCIETY AND SAVE SOULS IN THE FULLNESS OF FAITH." 

BISHOP ASHENDEN GAVE A FOURTH REASON. “IT IS MY DEEPEST CONVICTION THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE TO THE TYRANNY OF CULTURAL MARXISM.

IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR, AFTER DUNKIRK, EVERYONE WAS LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO BLAME FOR THE DISASTER THAT HAD BEFALLEN THE BRITISH FORCES.  THEY WERE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO PUNISH FOR THE MISTAKES THAT WERE MADE IN THE PAST. AT THAT TIME WINSTON CHURCHILL SAID A VERY WISE THING: HE SAID:  "IF WE OPEN A QUARREL BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT, WE SHALL FIND THAT WE HAVE LOST THE FUTURE."

IN 1972 ARCHBISHOP FULTON SHEEN GAVE US SOME WISDOM ABOUT THE FUTURE. HE SAID: WHO IS GOING TO SAVE OUR CHURCH? NOT OUR BISHOPS, NOT OUR PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS, IT’S UP TO YOU THE PEOPLE. YOU HAVE THE MINDS, THE EYES, AND THE EARS TO SAVE THE CHURCH. YOUR MISSION IS TO SEE THAT PRIESTS ACT LIKE PRIESTS, YOUR BSHOPS ACT LIKE BISHOPS, AND YOUR RELIGIOUS ACT LIKE RELIGIOUS.

SIMPLE ADVICE. BUT WISE, NONETHELESS.