RESPECT FOR THE CROWN OF AUTHORITY BY OUR LORD
|Cranach (the Elder) Christ's Head with Crown of Thorns 1520-25|
The words and actions of the Roman Governor, Pilate, have afforded an opportunity, for studying the origin and nature of authority. From the doctrine and example of our divine Master, we should learn our duties towards all our legitimate superiors. In the foregoing chapter, having had occasion to make some general reflections, about the obligations of persons in dignity, now justice demands, that we should also make some few remarks about the principal duties of Christian subjects, towards their respective superiors.
Superiors, though powerful for good, or for evil, are comparatively few in number; whilst, the vast majority of mankind, has ever been, and ever shall be, in a condition of subjection to authority. Many persons are occasionally raised to some temporary dignity or office; but they have to live in subordinate position for the rest of their life. Moreover, even those who actually occupy places of dignity and power have higher superiors above them, to whom they pay homage and obedience. "For," as the wise man says, "he that is high hath another higher; and there are others still higher than those. Moreover, there is the king that reigneth overall the land subject to him." (Eccles. 5:8)
Finally, above all earthly dignities and powers, above magistrates, governors, presidents, kings, emperors, autocrats, there is the supreme sovereign of heaven and earth, the Most High and Omnipotent God, the real source and center of all dignity and power, before whom every knee must bow in heaven, on earth, and in hell. We must therefore make some remarks on the duty of respect and obedience, which the vast majority of mankind owe to superiors .... Jesus Christ crowned with thorns will be our Master and Model.
RESPECT OF JESUS FOR THE AUTHORITY OF HIS HEAVENLY FATHER
The great Apostle Paul says: "Let every soul be subject to higher power; For there is no power, but from God, and those that are, are ordained of God." (Rom 13:1) All those who understand well this sublime maxim of order and subordination become the most pious souls towards God, and the most humble and docile subjects towards their respective superiors.
Our divine Savior knew this principle in speculation, and practised it with greater perfection, than any other person has ever done upon earth. The first and principal object of his incarnation was to make known to the world the power and dignity of his Heavenly Father; and to lead men by his example and doctrines, to honor his divine Majesty, and to obey his commands. Coming into the world, Jesus said: "Sacrifice and oblation Thou, O Father, wouldst not; but a body Thou hast fitted to me. Holocausts for sin did not please Thee, then I said: Behold I come to do Thy will O God." (Heb. 10:17) During his whole life upon earth, our divine Savior kept constantly in view, the honor and homage due to his heavenly Father, and in all his actions, he studied and strove to accomplish his adorable will. This was the real meaning of the words which, at the age of twelve, he addressed to his holy Mother in the temple of Jerusalem, in the presence of the learned doctors of the law, and which these men were unable to understand: "Did you not know that I must be about the things that are my Father's." (Lk. 2:40) The will of his heavenly Father was the element and food of his life upon earth. "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, that I may perfect this world." (Jn. 4:34) He solemnly protested that he would not move a hand, or foot, or utter a single word, except in conformity with the will of his Father, and to promote his honor and glory. "I can do nothing of myself...because I seek not my own will, but the will of him that sent me." (Jn. 5:30) As the will of God was the food of our Savior's life; so He made it the chalice of his passion, the drink of his agony, and his Viaticum in death. In his mortal agony in the garden of Gethsemani, he said: "The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it." (Jn. 18:2) "Father not my will, but thine be done." (Lk. 22:42) Finally, we learn that our divine Lord and Master sacrificed his life upon a cross, to do homage to his Father's supreme dignity; and in perfect obedience to his adorable will. "Jesus, St. Paul says, Jesus was obedient even unto death of the Cross." (Philip 2:8) Behold here a most perfect model of piety and devotion towards God.