The Experience of Power

19 July 2006: Wednesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 10, 5-7.13-16; Matthew 11, 25-27: In the Experience of Power

In the first reading, we hear Yahweh choosing Assyria as His instrument against an “impious nation.” The Gospel tells us of the disciples being chosen as Jesus’ instruments to those who have not heard the Good News. And by baptism, we are all chosen by God as His representatives in the present time. The power of the Spirit helps us read the events of the present times and see how God works in the world today.

There are however two pervading attitudes of those who were sent by God. First, is the path of the proud. Assyria boasts, “By my own power, I have done it!” Second, is the path of the humble. Jesus responds, “All things have been handed over to me by the Father.” In other words, Jesus acknowledges that his power comes from his Father who sent Him. God’s revelation has been given to infants, and not on the wise and intelligent.

We do have experiences of power. To those who have been educated in universities and centers of knowledge and skills, an achievement in a particular field is an experience of power. We know what we can do. To those who have been given responsibilities to direct teams, leadership positions are experiences of power. To those who have develop their skills excellently in the arts and in sports, a brilliant performance is an experience of power --- especially if one gets a standing ovation or the team gets the championship. The tendency of many of us brought in a rat-race culture is believe that this sense of supremacy and authority originates from our abilities alone. As Assyria would say, “By by own power, I have done it!” This is the path of the wise and the intelligent.

But Jesus gives us the opposite response. All things come from God --- even the sense of our own power--- as He would later tell Pilate. To acknowledge that our talents and abilities are gifts of God and does not originate from us is the attitude of the humble. However, to acknowledge that they are gifts includes using them at the service of God and neighbor. This is the path of infants --- those who recognizes their dependence on God. This is also the attitude of the saints.

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