God has entrusted remarkable powers to us Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Written by Bishop Donald J. Hying   
Thursday, Apr. 30, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

During this challenging pandemic experience, I have been meditating lately on power and the lack of it, the fear of vulnerability and dependence, the need to surrender control and accept what is beyond one's ability to change.

Since the definition of power is "the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events," we have probably all felt an ebbing of power and influence in our lives. The social restrictions, the loss of health or employment, the cancellation of activities and events have all thrust us into this opaque existence of limitation and diminishment.

Hying Logo
The power of God

Ponder with me the astounding power of God. The Father created all that exists from nothing in the mighty power of His divinity and holds it in being, harmony, and motion.

During this challenging pandemic experience, I have been meditating lately on power and the lack of it, the fear of vulnerability and dependence, the need to surrender control and accept what is beyond one's ability to change.

Since the definition of power is "the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events," we have probably all felt an ebbing of power and influence in our lives. The social restrictions, the loss of health or employment, the cancellation of activities and events have all thrust us into this opaque existence of limitation and diminishment.

The power of God

Ponder with me the astounding power of God. The Father created all that exists from nothing in the mighty power of His divinity and holds it in being, harmony, and motion.

To consider the complexity of the human body, the infinity of the cosmos, the immensity of the oceans, the beauty of the mountains, or the interdependence of an ecological system is to feel overwhelmed by the power, wisdom, and goodness of God.

Jesus Christ exhibits the same divine power in the transcendent truth of His preaching, the transformative healing of His miracles, the definitive authority of His forgiveness, and the gentle confidence of His self-knowledge as Son.

The mighty force of the Eucharist, the Cross, and the Resurrection stand at the center of our Faith. The power of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the birth of the Church, the holiness of the saints, the courage of the martyrs, the endurance of the Christian Faith, and the efficacy of the sacraments.

This infinite power of God is always used for the good of others, for humanity's benefit and salvation. This benevolence of divine might is most profoundly manifest in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the most beautiful, true, and good event in the history of the human race.

The temptation of Christ

In the rising of the Christ, God's power breaks the power of sin and death forever. How telling, that in the temptation in the wilderness, Satan seeks to divert Jesus from His divine mission by tempting Him to misuse His sacred abilities, to feed Himself, to aggrandize Himself, to seek power apart from obedience and submission to the will of the Father; in other words, Satan wanted to lure Jesus into his own radical disobedience.

Jesus remains true to His mission by directing His power to the healing and salvation of the hungry, ill, broken, sinful, and despairing who teem about Him in hopeful expectation. The temptation of Christ reminds us that power can be used for good or evil.

Michelangelo dedicated his abilities to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Hitler used his charismatic qualities to create Auschwitz. God shares extraordinary power with us and leaves us the freedom to choose how to exercise it. This remarkable and frightening fact is the lever of human history, in all of its glory and tragedy.

Americans exercise power

As Americans in the 21st century, we exercise enormous political, economic, cultural, and social power. We define ourselves as the most powerful nation on the planet, have profound influence on the course of world events, and drive the major components of globalized culture.

America stands, in many ways rightfully so, as a symbol of humanity's ingenuity, daring, and creativity, a place where anyone can achieve astounding success or realize remarkable potential.

No wonder we find limitations, poverty, suffering, and dependence so difficult. We crave freedom and possibility; we fear diminishment and circumspection. We resist loss of control with all our might.

The Crib and the Cross

When I come up against my weakness, inabilities, and limits, I find consolation in the two most popularly depicted images of Jesus: a cooing baby in the arms of His Mother and a tortured figure on the cross.

In both of these experiences, the Son of God seems completely powerless. Who is more fragile than an infant? Who is more crushed than an executed criminal? Yet, is not God most manifestly powerful in these icons of vulnerability and limitation?

In the Incarnation, the Son assumes the weakness of our flesh in order to redeem and save it. In the crucifixion, the Son takes on our sin and death in order to transform it.

Appearances aside, can we not see the power of Jesus flowing from both the Crib and the Cross? The power of Love that radically gives itself away in complete service to the other. A Love that willingly accepts limits in order to set the other free from limitations.

When we are at our weakest and most vulnerable, God is clearing away our false sense of self-sufficiency, sweeping out our pride of self-reliance, and laying siege to our need to control everything, so that His divine power, the might of the Crib and the Cross, can take root in our spirits.

This paradox is the core of the Paschal Mystery, death leading to resurrection, autonomy dying to self-surrender, a pride that always wants its own way stepping aside to let an obedient heart resurrect from the ashes of defeat and failure. The Cross is the only ladder to heaven.

Remarkable powers entrusted to us

God has entrusted remarkable powers to us who are created in His image and likeness. The abilities to love, worship, pray, think, create, work, speak and write, forgive, heal, and bless are gifts from our loving Father.

We exult in these abilities, but He gives us more, much more. The Lord also gives us power to suffer, surrender, accept and embrace limits, weakness, poverty, dependence, and our own fragile humanity; this power is the sacred door to the very Heart of the Lord.

I pray that this time of trial and testing may lead all of us to that deep confidence that "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).