The Gospel tells us Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. This shows that when Jesus calls, we need to respond. In the episode of the Gospel, Jesus appointed twelve whom he named apostles. He gave them two tasks:
- To proclaim the message. These apostles had the authority to proclaim the Gospel. Which is why the Catholic Church relies on Apostolic authority in her teaching. If a person claims to be Catholic, but does not adhere to the teaching of the Apostles, that person has separated himself from the Catholic Church. The authority to preach is given to the Bishop but he may delegate this to the priests and deacons of his diocese.
- To have authority to cast out demons. This authority was given to the Apostles only. Many Charismatics teach that by baptism, we have authority over demons and this is true in a limited perspective: only on those without our scope of authority. We do not have authority over demons that infest areas beyond our authority, such as a friend or someone who asks us to pray over them. The Apostles and their successors, the Bishops alone, have authority over demons. This authority is passed by the Bishop to some selected priests within their diocese. One cannot over emphasize the importance of this fact, that lay people should not communicate with demons, nor talk to them.
Jesus gave these privileges to the Apostles because he was setting up a new Israel, as mentioned in the First Reading: the days are surely coming … when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors… this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days … I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.
This applies to Jesus who establishes himself as the God of the people of the new covenant. This new covenant is not based on the Old covenant of the Law, but is based on Jesus himself. We see this when he gave the authority to proclaim the Gospel and the authority to cast out demons to the Apostles.
Jesus was establishing a new covenant and passing the authority to establish his kingdom to his Apostles and their successors.
St Vincent was a deacon in Saragossa, Spain in the 4th century, during the Christian persecution of Diocletian. He was commissioned by his bishop to preach the Gospel in his diocese. When the persecution reached Spain, Vincent and his Bishop were imprisoned by the Roman governor who offered to release Vincent if he would throw Scripture to the flame. Vincent refused and he was ordered to be tortured by tearing his flesh with iron hooks and rubbing salt on the wounds. He burned alive on a red-hot gridiron and while he was alive, he was laid on a floor scattered with broken pottery from which he died. His jailer repented of his sins and converted after seeing how Vincent was at peace throughout his torture. We are Catholics and our Church has always been a Church of martyrs, because of the Kingdom Jesus establishes is not one of political power, but one that is of the power of God, which is based on the proclamation of the Apostles.
Lord, help me to remain faithful to your teaching as passed from the Apostles to our Bishops through centuries. I pray for repentance of erring Bishops and preachers, that they may convert and be true to your Gospel. Give courage to those persecuted for speaking your Truth. St Vincent, pray that we may have courageous preachers of the Gospel, ready to give their life for Christ.