Message: Through weakness God give power.
We have come the final Sunday in the liturgical year - and the final homily in our series - Something for you. We have seen four things God wants for us: Faith, Communion, Abundance and Confidence. We have one more and it may surprise. God wants for you: power - not in the worldly sense of getting to the top of the heap, then falling back down. No, God wants for you - true power.
We get a glimpse of that power in our readings. Daniel envisions "one like a Son of Man" receiving "dominion, power and kingship." A dominion - a power - that endures. The Book of Revelation speaks about us becoming priests for God who has "power forever and ever."
And notice that in today's Gospel Jesus for the first time acknowledges his kingship. Before this, when people want to make him king, he flees. Now, as he faces the cross, he says, "I am a king." In his moment of supreme weakness and humiliation, Jesus declares his kingship. Then Jesus points out the path to true power: By listening to his voice, by belonging to the truth.
What does it mean to listen to Jesus's voice, belong to the truth and gain true power? It means, in a word, the cross. For a disciple Jesus power comes through weakness. I would like to illustrate this in two ways: one is literary and the other historical.
The literary example of power through weakness is, of course, the hobbit! If you've read the books or seen the movies you know that the hobbit is a "halfling" - about three feet tall. He like to keep his garden, eat 6 or 7 meals a day and mind his own business. Precisely because of his weakness he bears the ring - which is like bearing the cross. Although he seems the weakest creature in Middle Earth, in the end Frodo the Hobbit has the most powerful role. Frodo is a literary example of power through weakness.
I'd like to now give an historical example. In 1939, when the Nazis conquered Poland, a teenage boy fought back not with a gun, but with culture. He organized a group to perform Polish plays. That might seem innocent, but the plays show the inner dynamism of Polish culture. By an underground theater he resisted the Nazis.
After World War II he opposed Communist totalitarianism, again not violently, but with culture and faith. Eventually he became pope. I am sure you know who I mean: St. John Paul II. Once a Communist ruler scoffed at the papacy. "How many divisions does the pope have?" He asked derisively. He thought power comes from the barrel of gun. But John Paul II knew about a greater power. Culture is a lot more than a group of people watching a play. The word culture come from "cultus" - worship, cult - a common act of faith.*
In the downfall of communism the world has seen the power of faith. Not that the world is grateful. On the contrary, we are seeing an increased negativity to the faith. More and more people scoff at faith. Some even say the world would be better without faith. As people of faith we can seem weak, beaten down. That weakness has a good side. Through weakness God gives power. Not some kind of political power, but true power. Power that endures.
This month we have spoken about a practical step to power: by making a pledge. The way we grow is by making a commitment and doing our best to fulfill it. For sure, we all have shortcomings and circumstances change. But making a pledge is a potent act of trust.
We need trust more that ever. We are in a crisis. Pope Francis refers to our "piecemeal World War III." As we will see during Advent the crisis has several levels. Jesus offers us a last chance. During Advent we will ask: Am I missing out? My brother, my sister, are you missing out?
God calls us. God empowers us. God invites us in Jesus (as we heard today) to be part of a kingdom of priests - to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.
*This power can become perverted - as the November 13 events in Paris show.
Plan for this series:
From Archives (Christ the King, Year B):
Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru