Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the 1950s, Fr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation, began teaching theology in a public high school outside of Milan. (In Italy, at least in those days, public education included classes in theology). He quickly realized that most of his students had such a moralistic view of the faith—meaning that a “relationship” with Jesus simply meant “following the rules.” Giussani concluded that his students misunderstood the roll of authority. Years later he wrote a book entitled The Risk of Education and in it he states:
We experience authority when we meet someone who possesses a full awareness of reality, who imposes on us a recognition and arouses surprise, novelty, and respect. There is an inevitable attraction within authority and an inexorable suggestion within us, since the experience of authority reminds one more or less clearly of one’s poverty and limitations. For this reason, we tend to follow him and become his “disciples.”
In the Gospels, Jesus is often spoken of as one who “taught with authority.” Yet, this authority was not intimidating, rather it was inviting. Jesus’s words invited His listeners to know the reality that they are loved by God in ways that far surpass anyone or anything in this world.
During a time when we see the abuse of authority by leaders in our government, by impersonal businesses and corporations, and by leaders in our Church, we can rest assured that the authority of Jesus always grants us the “full awareness of reality” that we are made for heaven. May the example of modern-day prophets, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who we remember this Monday, help us to witness to the reality of heaven by fostering a bit of heaven on earth—one person at a time.
Peace and blessings,
Fr. John Gribowich
Administrator, St. Augustine – St. Francis Xavier
Feel free to reach me at: [email protected] or 718-517-3123 (direct office line)