Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Spiritual Authority

Wednesday: November 13, 2019–– 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:1–11 / Luke 17:11–19
Spiritual Authority

St Paul tells the Romans that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable (11:29). He is talking about God’s promises to Israel and giving assurance that the Jewish people will not be left out of the salvation accomplished by Christ.

Yet the principle goes beyond the particular application in the Romans letter. The original gift and call that God gave his human creation was to govern the earth as his vice-regents. Humans have an inherent spiritual authority that has a cause and effect in this world. It can be used for great good; it can be used for great harm and evil.

The harm and evil that has been done is quite visible across the span of history. One of the worst conduits is what we think of as political power. That is the basis of the warning in today’s reading from Wisdom: Because authority was given you by the Lord…. Because though you were ministers of his kingdom, you judged not rightly….Terrible and swift shall he come against you….

Lord Acton has been credited with saying “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Pride and a selfish lust for power has turned God’s gift of vice-regency into horrible repercussions in our world.

But God’s people are not totally helpless. One way to understand prayer is our God-given ability to use spiritual authority to combat the forces of evil which operate through dark principalities and powers.

This is also a good way to understand why humility and thankfulness can be powerful actions for good––in our own souls and in the world around us. The Gospel shows us the kind of people God is so prone to work in and through––the lowly and desperate, like the lepers. Yet there is a needed response: thankfulness––an attitude that acknowledges God as God.

When live unto God we are allowing the spiritual power of our vice-regency to flow through us for good. And so we come to him each day, humbly taking our place both as his exalted creatures and as his dependent children. And we pray…. we pray for good and we pray against evil. And we ask for the grace to give thanks always for his good gifts.

The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Let’s use them wisely.

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