Real authority comes from God; and although it may include the use of some power on occasion, for the most part authority works by persuasion, by reasoning, and by leading by example. The root meaning of the word “authority” is from the Latin verb to make grow, to “augment.”Those in authority, such as parents, teachers, ministers, elected officials, policemen, and so on, must ever seek the spiritual, mental, and physical well-being and growth of those under their care, all in ways fitting for their God-given roles. Furthermore, we see in the ways that God shepherds and guides us that much is accomplished with and through our free co-operation. From experience we know that God rarely forces us, rarely overpowers us in any way; but he is ever drawing, leading, persuading, challenging us to “grow up” and live faithfully in union with Christ. Many possibilities and choices are presented in our lives, and our task is to discern which ones are divinely offered and lead to happiness, and which ones are detours, leading human beings on the downward path.
Christ effectively shepherds and nourishes human beings in more ways than we discern or understand. The ever-present means of Christ guiding us come through the Holy Spirit “poured into our hearts,”and through the divine gift of right reason. The Spirit and reason remain now, as for many centuries, the two primary means for God to guide, correct, nourish, and grow goodness in human beings. These great spiritual gifts work in us and through us, but not without us; we need to attend to the divine presence, and put God’s wisdom and goodness into effect by our words and actions. The task of the Church is to strengthen us in our receptivity to the divine working through Spirit and reason. As we obey Christ, as we faithfully follow his path, we become more able to live by the Spirit, and to reason properly. As we turn away and disobey, we become insensitive to the movements of the Spirit, and reason can be abused as a tool of our passing desires and whims. The greater the gifts, the greater the chance to neglect or abuse them. Through loving and seeking God, we allow the LORD to guide us by the Spirit and by right reason. No human being can ever dispense with divine shepherding through reason and the Spirit, and still be following the path of life and happiness.