No Power But Love
Monday June 13, 2022 (11th Week of Ordinary Time)
by Fr. David M. Knight
View today's readings: Year CII: 1Kings 21: 1-16; Psalm 5:2-7; Matthew 5:38-42
The Responsorial (Psalm 5) proclaims trust in the power of powerless ministry: “Lord, listen to my groaning.”
In 1Kings 21: 1-16 Ahab and Jezebel use ruthless, unjust power to kill and rob an innocent man. And they get away with it — until tomorrow’s reading! Then their fate encourages every victim of injustice who prays “Lord, listen to my groaning” to trust that God will indeed bring about justice — but by his own means, not in dependence on human force and violence. Those, however, who, like Ahab, do rely on human force and violence are eventually destroyed by it, as Ahab was.
In Matthew 5:38-42 Jesus teaches us what true power is. It is the power of unconditional love: “Do not resist an evildoer… turn the other cheek; give your cloak as well; go the second mile. Give to everyone who begs… do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow….” This is the only power that accomplishes lasting good on earth. It is the power Jesus used to redeem the world. And it is the most shocking teaching in the New Law.
Jesus didn’t teach this until his disciples had accepted him unconditionally as Savior:
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering… and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Matthew 16:21).
Jesus saved the world by “enduring evil with love” — by accepting whatever suffering the sins of the world laid on his shoulders and “loving back.” He saved us as Priest accepting to be Victim with love. And anyone who wants to minister with Jesus must do the same: “…deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16: 13-28).
This is love that is more than human. It is shocking, scandalous. Peter rejected it immediately in the name of us all: “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you!” But Jesus insisted with vehemence: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
The world is not saved by ordinary human goodness, but by God’s own divine, incomprehensible love active on earth. This is the love we must accept and strive to embody in Christian ministry. To live out our baptismal consecration as “priests in the Priest” we must “die to ourselves” in order to say with St. Paul, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.” To every person we deal with we say, “This is my body, given up for you” in ministry and love.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest”: Let Christ express his love through you in every encounter you have with every person, all day long. Give life through love.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry