Jesus teaches that love – of God and one another – is the greatest commandment. Why? Because we are called into relationship with the Lord and each other, and these relationships are nurtured, strengthened and guided by our willingness to love one another as God loves us.
While today’s passage from the Gospel of John remains one of the most well known and beloved of all Scripture, the verses that follow indicate the choice that we all have to make. Do we seek Christ, the Light of the world, or do we prefer darkness…because our deeds are evil? May we face our temptations and resolutely follow the Lord, whose light shines in our world and helps us find our way.
In great and small ways, we all exercise power and authority. Some people make daily decisions that shape the lives of nations; others rule kingdoms no bigger than the back garden. Yet regardless of size and shape, the fact remains that power and authority are part of human life.
Having these two dynamic attributes, however, are no guarantee that they will be used wisely and well. History is filled with both good and bad examples where power and authority have been used – for great good and great harm.
Like all gifts, power and authority find their origin in the Lord. God is the source of all life, and every blessing, every ability, derives its strength from the throne of Heaven. Both the first reading and the Gospel today acknowledge this truth: Moses proclaims that God will raise up a future prophet for the people; Jesus teaches with authority and casts out demons. As Christ fulfills the promise of Moses, the Lord extends his power to conquer sin and death that we might have hope in this world as we look to the world to come.
In light of these readings two thoughts emerge for consideration:
Do I acknowledge God’s power and authority in my life?
Do I use the power and authority I have for God’s glory?
Think about it. We often know what we should do…the question is, do we do it?! The Lord’s commands (forgiveness, prayer, service to the poor, justice, etc.) are not nice things to think about in our spare time. They are dictates from on high that are meant to enliven us and fill us with grace, peace, and joy. The problem of course is that our own ego can get in the way and redirect our energy away from God. In these moments, we search our conscience (Remember the Examination of Conscience last week?) and return to the Lord.
And while we are examining our hearts, we have the opportunity to put into practice the power and authority we have in a 1001 ways. Consider:
The Environment, The Legal System, Local Government
Any place where our lives touch another…
Since all power comes from God and flows through us, it might be helpful to recall that one day we are going to stand before Jesus Christ. With loving eyes he will look into our souls and ask what we did with the gift of life we were given. It’s not the mistakes we made that will be hardest to bear, but the opportunities we missed to good with what we had. Perhaps today we might reflect on the Lord’s commands for our lives, and reconsider how we might put them into practice with the power we possess.
St. Paul teaches that we are part of the Body of Christ, and as members of this body we work with and for one another. What’s more, Jesus explains in a parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is open to many that society might not recognize as belonging to this body.
It’s non-negotiable. Forgiveness is a key ingredient in the Christian life and without it we cannot receive the grace that the Lord lavishes upon us. Who do we need to forgive? To whom do we need to ask for forgiveness? May we call upon God’s grace for the strength we need to be people who put forgiveness into practice.
The Lord bluntly teaches that grief is part of our journey of faith, but that it is not the final destination. As we face our challenges today we turn to Jesus Christ for the strength and guidance that will bring us to joy in His kingdom.