Obedience To The State- June 2020
Saint Paul tells the Romans (13:1-5) "Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake."
All authority comes from Almighty God, including that of the State.
There is a false idea, which underlied the Constitutional system in the early days. Some believed that the people themselves are sovereign and they grant authority to the government through the ballot box. However, this is a false idea. When we vote and someone is elected, the authority comes from God in the same way it does in a Papal Election. The electors elect a Catholic man to be Pope. The moment he accepts the election God grants him the power. Election is an act of inferiors electing a superior to be over them.
Saint Peter (I Peter 2:13-15) tells us: "Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good: For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:" It is the will of God we obey all God has placed in authority over us. When we advocate disobedience or even disobey, we give others a bad example.
Proverbs (8:15-16) tells us: "By me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things, By me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice." Many today are questioning the justice of the rulers of the State. There is a saying, we get the government we deserve. If we want justice, we must deserve justice by our way of life.
The principle of obedience binds in all places where it exists. Not just the Church and State, but also in the work place within the bounds of the manager's authority. There may be limits to authority, but it is not the inferior's place to judge. We owe not only obedience, but also respect to the authorities God has placed over us, even the evil ones. It is not our place to judge the actions of our superiors.
Jesus tells us how to deal with problems: "But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican." (Matthew 18:15-17) If we have a problem with a superior, let us go to him and present it. If he will not hear us, then we may take one or two more. In the case of the State there is a procedure for addressing a problem, when the superior, such as President or Governor exceed their authority. We should use this procedure through the courts rather than start complaining to the world about what we believe these superiors are doing wrong. When they come up for re-election, we can vote against them.
The principle of obedience is simple, obey in all things except what is certainly sinful.
A doubtful case is ruled in favor of the superior, and the superior is responsible before God.
One thing is being missed by those who complain about the evils in the world today. Cajetan wrote about what to do about an evil Pope. (By evil Pope, we mean morals, not heresy.) His answer is that our only solution is to have recourse to prayer. Do we pray for our superiors as we ought? The Church and the world run on prayer. The more sincere prayer, the better things will be. For prayer to be sincere it must come from a pure heart. Just as our superiors have a duty to pray for us, we have a duty to pray for them. In the Church we may know we have a duty to pray for our Pastor, our own Bishop and the Pope. However, we also have a duty to pray for our secular leaders, who God has placed over us. Also we have a duty to pray for our employer.
Saint John (9:31) tells us: "Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth." While we nourish our pet sins, our prayers will not be heard. And one of these sins is ranting and raving about the sins of others and the evils in the world. Instead let us look at the evil in our own heart and ask God to purify our heart. If you truly want an end to evil in the world, let it end first in your own heart and soul. When we nourish our pet sins, no matter how trivial they may seem, we contribute to and increase the evil in the world.
When we do speak out, let us encourage each other to become saints, because this is our vocation. All of us are called to be saints. True, we may never be canonized. A true saint wants to become a saint unnoticed. A true saint lives by the Gospels and is truly humble, as Jesus said: "Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls." (Matthew 11:29)
A true saint also is an good example of obedience in all save sin. A true saint encourages others to obey.
Let us remember that those in authority receive their power from God. They have difficult decisions to make in some cases, and it is possible for them to err. In these days some may have erred simply because of the information they had available to them at the time they made their decision. We live in uncertain times, and rulers are going to make mistakes. Instead of criticizing them, let us support them and pray for them.
Saint Paul tells the Ephesians (4:29): "Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers." My friends there is far too much evil speech today, when there should be none. Jesus says: "But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil." (Matthew 5:37)
Prayer for Government Leaders
God of power and might, wisdom and justice, through you authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed. Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude the President and other government leaders of these United States. May they always seek the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy. Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection to lead our country with honesty and integrity. We ask this through Christ our Lord.