First Reading: Acts 18:9-18; Psalm: 47. R. v. 8a; Gospel: Jn 16:20-23a
THE CHURCH AND THE STATE
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 repay this kindness. There are countries whose government interferes, opposes and restricts the moral teachings of the Church. They even go as far as altering the curriculum of schools by influencing 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 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 expertise. If only our governments will learn to keep to their lane, perhaps the moral life of the society will improve. But the reality today remains that the Church continues to battle with the government in her teachings on faith and morals. There is a divide on issues such as abortion, contraceptives, euthanasia, LGBT and the like. It is unfortunate. The Church however will not relent on her teachings; for Jesus warned us of this pain and persecution beforehand.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, may your church remain faith in her teachings despite the opposition of the world. Amen.