Not in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 1, 5)
God speaks to us. But do we really understand him? Who guarantees us the truth?
He speaks to us definitively and unambiguously through his Son, even though we, while hearing the same word, do not always understand it in the same way. Different stances give rise to different interpretations, for instance, of “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Some cite it as proof that the Church should not meddle in the affairs of the state (D. Hamm). Those who make such use of this passage envision two completely autonomous spheres.
On the other hand, there are those who see “two spheres [that] are distinct, yet always interrelated” (Deus caritas est 28). They affirm, on the basis of the aforementioned passage—and also of “We must obey God rather than men”—that “refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2242).
In the face of such opposing views, which is it then? Of course, the presumption is in favor of the official teachers in the Church. But in the final analysis, Christian authority derives from charity and is proven authentic through it.
To have charity is “to will the good of another” (Catechism 1766). So, anyone who says he loves, but seeks all the while his own advantage, is a liar. Charity, by definition, is disinterested and simple.
It cannot belong to the hypocrites who seek to ruin others. Flattering and smoother than oil are their words, but they are naked swords. Charity belongs only to the clean and humble of heart, the ones who are gifted with the vision of God and the discernment of the truth.
And since Jesus is the lover par excellence who goes about doing good to the point of giving his life for all, the only thing left for us to do, in order to love truly and tell true explanation from false, is to imitate him and live the Eucharist. Discernment requires that we keep asking him, as St. Vincent de Paul recommends (Coste XI:348): “Lord, if you were in in my place, what would you do on this occasion?”
The imitators of Jesus recognize that one must put God ahead of everything and everybody, since those created in his image are wholly his, the divine sovereign who rules even over the superpowers of this world.
Lord, grant that we may faithfully dedicate ourselves to you and be your true images.