Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus, bishops of the early Church. St. Paul’s letters to each of them can be found in the New Testament. In the gospel from today’s Mass, Jesus states, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mk 3:24-25) While The Lord’s actual quote refers to Satan and his evil kingdom, we can also apply His statement to the Church.
In union with the Pope, the bishops have the authority to make laws that are binding for Catholics. This authority existed back in the days of Timothy and Titus and it still exists today. Unfortunately, there are some Catholics today that don’t feel the need to obey certain laws of the Church. A great deal of the blame for this can be placed on the changing values of today’s society, where “law” and “authority” have become dirty words. In the days of the Old Testament, the Israelites loved and reverenced the Law of God, as they looked at it as a way to determine His will. Today, some Catholics detest the word “law” and will vehemently dissent from Church teaching if it doesn’t meet their approval.
Two very notable examples of this are the current United States Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Both of these individuals profess to be devout Catholics, but openly reject the Church’s teaching that abortion is always morally wrong. Their actions send a public message to their fellow Catholics that it is acceptable to defy infallible Church teaching if it doesn’t meet your approval. In a less public way, we see this type of defiance every day in our workplaces, neighborhoods and even in our families. Many people only obey those Church teachings that meet their approval.
Although the Church will never be destroyed by this behavior (Mt 16:18), it does weaken it. When The Catholic Church is faced with battles against such evils as abortion, embryonic stem cell research and gay “marriage”, it’s hard to present a united front when some of our most prominent members follow their own personal doctrine. While we cannot control the behavior of others, we can control our own behavior and obey the teachings of Christ through His Church.
We can turn to our Blessed Mother for guidance and recall her words at the wedding at Cana as she told the servers, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5) By doing that, we will set a positive example for others and help to advance the Kingdom of God in the world.