August 27, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Power: a Sunday Scriptures blog

Our Hebrew Scripture reading today (Is 22:19-23) is about the Lord’s demotion of Shebna, “master of the palace,” and the ceremonial elevation of His chosen new official, Eliakim. Our Gospel is Jesus’ choice of Peter to lead “my church.” Note that in both readings, the authority given to Eliakim and to Peter is coming from God. There was no popular vote! We could also think of that dialogue between Jesus and Pilot, during John’s Passion account, when the exasperated Pilot says to the silent Jesus: “Do you not know that I have the power to release you … [or] crucify you?” Jesus answered: “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above” (Jn 19:11). How foreign is this insight to the world’s understanding of power. Might makes right, and if not might, then money, class, gender, race — all of which establish hierarchies of “greater sorts and lesser sorts” of people — terms from the Boston colony in colonial Massachusetts. Jesus was very explicit about rejecting the idea of power his world and ours operated by. He did not want people to be his servants, but his friends. He told his followers that the truths of the kingdom did not belong to the famous but to children. He advised his disciples to take the lowest place at the table, and not to rely on their possessions but on the hospitality of those who offered to receive them during their preaching journeys. We all have a power drive — part of our evolutionary heritage, I think. It makes us aggressive, jealous, suspicious, competitive, mistrustful, sarcastic, dismissive, judgmental, etc. We need to get to know our power drive, befriend it and direct it to serve the purpose of our lives, to bring the light of Christ to “where we are planted.” Then we become able to be servants in the way we use our power. Let us pray for leaders of our Church today, and especially for Pope Francis, “servant of the servants of God.”

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia; Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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