Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Never has human kind been more powerful than today. We have the power to send men and women to the moon, we have the power to split the atom, and we ask ourselves where it will end.
People persist in believing that power is theirs to what they like with. The consequences of that attitude are plain to see. It is all lights years away from the teaching and example of Christ.
Consider the Gospel passage [Luke 8;22–25]: Jesus is in a boat on the lake with his friends: suddenly it all begins to go wrong. One of those sudden gales blows up, and they all risk perishing. Save us Lord, they cry, we are drowning. So Jesus gives them a practical lesson about power. We all like to be in control, but the disciples were out of control, they had, as people might say today, lost it. To rely on their own power to get out of this mess would have been futile, so Jesus demonstrates that power comes from God, and that he, God in man, is able to exercise that self same power for the good of all. He rebukes the wind and the waves, and all becomes calm once more. Who is this, they ask. He is the one who calls them to abandon false delusions of power, false notions of their ability to control events, and to come back to faith, faith in God, faith in the one he has sent. Power comes from God, and that same power which stilled the raging of the sea, has the capacity to bring calm and order into our disordered lives.
And we who bear his name are called to use the power that God shares with us to the same ends: to bring peace where there is conflict, to bring justice to the oppressed, to co-operate in the ongoing work of making the creation a faithful reflection of the very splendour of God himself, who never misuses the power that is his by right, and he expects that the power he has shared with us should be given back to him in loving service.
In our hearts we know this to be true, yet we still seek to use power the earthly way. How foolish we are. Yes, we fear totalitarian rulers, or at least the power for evil that we believe they have, but they will be a footnote in the history books before long – here today, gone tomorrow. They may, indeed, be followed by worse, but all will go the same way. But the power that we see in Jesus, the power to bring peace, the power to bring justice, the power to bring wholeness instead of brokenness, the power to bring order into chaos, the power to love, these things remain to challenge us all. Let the world play its power games, let the world delude itself into thinking that we are the masters now. We in this, as in all things, are called to have the mind of Christ. And if you want to know what Christian power is about you need look no further than the Cross.
Fr. Edward Bryant