He is Able- God's Power

   There is much discussion about the potential for an energy crisis. Renewable energy is ever expanding priority as we seek to move away from fossil fuels, concerned about the potential for global warming and climate change. Some see it as essential to save the planet and protect the people who live on it. Others see it as another grab for power, not energy power but political and economic power.

   Power is a popular word. Knowledge is power. Money is power. There are power struggles, will power, world powers, the power of suggestion, the power of positive thinking, nuclear power, wind power, solar power, power structures and power to the people.

   People are trying to save themselves these days by all kinds of power: white power, black power, girl power, water power, air power, political power, and power naps. Despite all of this vying for power, many of us today feel powerless. Why? Because the real energy crisis in the world is a human one, within you and me and every person.

   The two blindmen in today’s Gospel from the Seventh Sunday of Matthew (9:27-35) had an energy crisis. They did not have the power to overcome their physical blindness. So they followed someone they heard might have the power--Jesus--and begged Him, “Have mercy on us Son of David” (v.27). Before doing anything, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (v.28). In other words, “Do you believe I have the power to do what you’re asking?” They replied, “Yes, Lord.” And Jesus touched them saying, “According to your faith, let it be done to you” (v.29). And their eyes were opened and they received their sight (v.30).

   The blindmen solved their energy crisis by coming to the true source of power: Jesus Christ who is God and Lord of the universe. Yet, too many of us are cut off from our genuine source of power because we close our lives off from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. We don’t have enough power to do what is right, nor enough will-power to resist temptation and refrain from doing wrong. All of those others sources of power that we just mentioned eventually fail. Only one remains that is durable and dependable, that is God Himself.

   When we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration yesterday (August 6th), in the Gospel readings of both the Orthros (Luke ) and the Liturgy (Matt.17), we heard about Jesus being transfigured on Mount Tabor before His Apostles Peter, James and John. Hs face shined brighter than the sun and His garments became white as light as Jesus revealed His divine nature. How much energy and light does the sun generate? It gives us bright days and warm summers from 93 million miles away. If God created the sun, just think how much energy and light His Son must have. That’s power!

   This is not the first time God demonstrated His power to people. Look at the battle between David and Goliath. David was young and small and represented the Israelites. Goliath was a giant soldier representing the Philistines. Whoever won would determine the fate of two nations. The stakes were extremely high.

     45Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD'S, and He will give you into our hands." (1Samuel 17:45-47)

   As we fight our giants, we must remember that the battle is the Lord’s and our weapon is God’s strength. Each of us in a sense has a giant to fight. With some it is a physical ailment. With others it is a harmful habit which has frustrated them for years. With far too many it is a fear of the future. With others, it is a deep sorrow which has disturbed their peace and happiness.

   Later, when the Israelites were fighting the Assyrians we hear how the God of power intervened on Israel’s behalf.

     35And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. (2Kings 19:35). One angel!

   When Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethesamene, we read that:     51And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Matthew 26:51-54). At this time, a legion of Roman soldiers consisted of 5,000 men. Thus Jesus was talking about summing 60,000 angels.

   This event demonstrates another attribute about God’s power. God is infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty. But He does have limitations—self-imposed restrictions. He will never force us to do something. He leads, encourages, and admonishes us but never forces us. This is important to remember.

   Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book in 1981 that became a best seller, entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” His own son died at the age of 14 from progeria, a tragic illness. Kushner attempts to answer the question: “How can a loving God allow such terrible evil in the world?” What Kushner came up with is this: God is indeed all-loving but He is not all-powerful. Bad things happen because they are simply beyond God’s control. The God Kushner describes is not the all-mighty God of the Bible, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

   Fr. Anthony Coniaris wrote, “If bad things happen to good people, they happen because God is in total control. He allows even bad things to happen to us, as He did to His own Son, because He is at work in our lives, testing us, strengthening us, molding us, making us, preparing us for eternity.”

   As we conclude, we acknowledge and admit our human energy crisis. It is spiritual in nature. Why? Because we fail to acknowledge the two most important powers in the world: 1) The Power of the Holy Spirit, and 2) the Power of Prayer. Appliances like a refrigerator and a microwave oven, electronics like televisions and sound systems are designed and built to utilize a current of electricity for power and function. If electricity is not flowing, the appliance or electronic is useless, it cannot work. It’s exactly the same way with us. God designed and created us humans so that our whole being springs to life the moment we receive His power. The Holy Spirit is our electricity and prayer is how we plug into that power.

   Power, whether it be horses, water, wind or steam, is not helpful until it is harnessed. No human life ever truly produces until it is connected with the power of God. A spinal injury can cut-off the electrical signals from the brain to the legs and the arms. If we allow ourselves to be cut off spiritually from Christ, who is the head of the Church, then our soul loses the power to discern good from evil and resist temptation.

   St. Paul spoke about the power of God in this way:     24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1Corinthians 1:24-25). Let us plug into the weakness of God through prayer, worship, and receiving the sacraments, so that we can be strong in Him! Amen!