First Reading: Acts 18:9-18; Psalm: 47. R. v. 8a; Gospel: Jn 16:20-23a
THE CHURCH AND GOVERNMENT
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The Catholic Church is one of the religious institutions that promote respect and obedience to civil laws that are not contrary to moral principles. The Church always encourages her faithful to exercise their civic responsibilities and to obey and maintain law and order in the society. But obviously not all governments return this kindness. There are countries where their government interferes and restricts the moral teachings of the Church. They even go as far as altering the curriculum of schools by deciding what teachers should and should not teach. They go beyond their boundaries to exercise control over the divine mandates of the scriptures and set pastors on edge in preaching the gospel message.
Gallio’s intervention on Paul’s arrest for preaching the gospel is very handy in addressing this situation. Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia (the governor) when the Jews arrested Paul and dragged him before the tribunal with the accusation that he was preaching the gospel as against the law which forbade him to do so. This law was made by the Jews themselves. Before Paul could say a word in defence of this charge, Gallio interrupted, “‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, I should have reason to bear with you, O Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I refuse to be a judge of these things.’ And he drove them from the tribunal” (Acts 18:14-16).
Gallio rightly saw that the government has no role in attempting to decide religious matters but only on issues pertaining to wrongdoing or evil crimes. Even in the different fields of studies, authorities are respected. A professor of engineering has no legitimate authority to teach a course on sociology. These are completely two different fields of studies that require competent authorities. If only our governments would learn to keep to their lane, perhaps the moral life of the society would improve. Today we live in a society where the Church is mandated on what and what not to preach. Let us continue to pray to God against this tide that his Church may remain steadfast in defending whatever is right.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, strengthen your church to remain steadfast in her teachings in the face of every opposition. Amen.