What is Authority?

Alam ko mayroon kayong mga kakilalang dating katoliko o katoliko pero di na nagsisimba o katoliko pero may sama ng loob sa simbahan, sa pari o sa obispo. (I know, you may know someone who are former Catholics or Catholics who no longer go to mass or Catholics who have resentment toward the church, priests and bishops.) Katoliko na napagalitan, napagtaasan ng boses. Katoliko na napahiya dahil sa salita ng obispo o dahil sa salita ng pari. (Catholics who were reprimanded, who were yelled at. Catholics who were humiliated because of something that the bishop or the priest had said.) Katoliko na may sama ng loob, may tampo kasi kay liit liit ng pakiusap “hindi man lang ako pinagbigyan.” Katoliko na may sama ng loob – Bakit hindi ako hinarap? Bakit hiniya ako? Bakit sinagawan ako? Bakit hindi ako pinansin? Bakit hindi man lang nagpasalamat? (Catholics who felt slighted because their small request was simply ignored. Catholics who felt resentment – Why did the priest not come see me? Why did he humiliate me? Why did he yell at me? Why did he ignore me? Why didn’t he even thank me?  Maraming ganito at inaamin ko po…at inaamin ko na kasama ako doon sa mga pinuno ng simbahan na nakasakit, nagpahiya kaya nagtampo, kaya umalis ang mga kapatid natin sa pananampalataya. (There are many cases like this and I admit…I admit that I am one of those leaders of the church who may have hurt or humiliated a member of our Church which led to our brethren leaving the Church.)


Unfortunately, we will not be able to stop, unless we rediscover the real meaning of authority. We will not be able to stop the bleeding of the church, with Catholics who leave the church, unless we understand and rediscover the power of authority in the church, the meaning of authority in the church.


Why was the Lord awesome with His authority? Why was the Lord so incredible with His authority?


Number one, it was because He understood that all authority comes from compassion. Authority comes from compassion. Authority does not come from position. If authority comes from compassion, it means that the position of the authority is not to be on top. It means the position of the person in authority is not to be looked up to. It means that the position of the person in authority is a companion. A companion who knows compassion. Because the great need of our time is not for idols, it’s not for models but for companions who are willing to listen, who are will to forgive, who are willing to understand, who willing to give us a tap on the shoulder and be able to  say “May Awa ang Diyos” (“God is merciful”.) Authority comes from compassion. It does not come from position. Authority is not vertical. Authority is horizontal. When we can extend our arms longer and serve one another more. When a person in the church is given authority, it is not a step higher than the rest. When a person is given authority, that person is given wider arms so that he can embrace more people than what he has been embracing until now. Authority is compassion. And unless we discover the power of compassion, authority will continue to be abused.


The second important component of authority that is credible…that is awesome…that is wonderful, as the Gospel says to us is that authority cannot be separated from obedience. May kapangyarihan at may pagsunod. (Where there is authority, there is obedience.) Kapag sinabi ko na hindi pwedeng paghiwalayin ang kapangyarihan at pagsunod. Hindi ibig sabihin na lahat ng may kapangyarihan ay dapat sundin. Hindi yon. (In saying that authority cannot be separated from obedience, it doesn’t mean that we should be obedient to all persons in authority.) Ang ibig ko pong sabihin ay ang lahat ng may kapangyarihan ay dapat na masunurin. (What I mean to say is that persons in the position of authority must be obedient.) All authority must know how to obey. Because if authority does not know how to obey, it will become authoritarian. If authority does not know how to obey, it will become dictatorial. If authority does not know how to obey, it will even become violent. Facist.


On the other hand, my dear brothers and sisters, obedience must know how to exercise authority. Anong ibig kong sabihin? (What do I mean by this?) Hindi ho puwede na tayo’y masunurin lamang. Kasi kong ikaw ay masunurin lamang at hindi ka marunong humawak ng kapangyarihan, anong mangyayari sa iyo? (It is not enough that we are obedient. Because if you are simply obedient and do not know how to hold a position of authority, what will become of you?) Magiging “doormat” ka. Alam ninyo yung doormat? (You will become a doormat. Do you know what a doormat is?) Tinatapakan, hindi kumikibo. Dinadaanan, hindi kumikibo. Yung doormat… tapakan mo, daanan mo, tahimik lang. (When people walk all over a doormat, it doesn’t move and it doesn’t say anything. A doormat keeps still and stays silent.)  But we are not doormats. Yes, we must obey. But we must know that we have authority. We must know that we have power. We must know how to use that power. Because compassion without justice, compassion without order, compassion without proper use of authority is baloney. It is fake. Authority without obedience is dictatorial, authoritarian. But obedience without authority is “doormat personality”. And God is not glorified by doormat persons. Authority and obedience must go together. Authority comes from compassion. Authority needs obedience.


And number 3 – authority can bring life by forgiveness. God can bring life out of nothing. Hindi natin kaya yon. (We are incapable of doing this.) We cannot create out of nothing. Diyos lang ang puwedeng gumawa nun. (Only God is capable of doing this.) Pero tayo ay puwedeng makagawa ng bago. (But we are capable of creating something new.) At paano tayo makagagawa ng bago, sa pamamagitan nang pagpapatawad. (How can we create something new? It is through forgiveness.) Kasi kapag tayo’y nagpapatawad, nababago natin ang nagkasala. (Because when we forgive, we are able to change the one who wronged us.) Kapag tayo’y nagpapatawad, nagagawa nating “brand new” yung nadapa. (Because when we forgive, we can turn the person who stumbled into someone brand new.) Kapag tayo’y nagpapatawad, nagagawa nating bagong tao yung nagkamali. (When we forgive, we can change that person who made a mistake.) Forgiveness creates a new person. It creates something new in us. And forgiveness creates something new in the one who has been forgiven. And all authority is about forgiveness.


Balik tayo, mga minamahal kong kapatid. Paano natin pipigilan ang pagdurugo ng simbahan? (Let us go back, my brothers and sisters – how can stop the bleeding of the Church?) Sa mga katolikong umaalis na may tampo, may sama ng loob, may galit laban sa mga lider ng simbahan. (How can we bring back our Catholic brothers and sisters who felt shamed, who carry a grudge and who are resentful of the leaders of the Church?)  We must rediscover – priests and bishops, parents, teachers, bosses in companies, chiefs in offices. We must rediscover that if authority is to be credible it must come from compassion, it must be blended with obedience and it must not hesitate to forgive. Because when we forgive, we create something new. When we are compassionate, we understand that authority is companionship. When we know how to obey, we understand also that the original sin was disobedience and our way to heaven is obedience.


Lord, teach us authority with compassion. Teach us authority blended with obedience. Teach us authority with the power to forgive, to make all things new.



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