How do you establish your authority? Be you a parent or Prime Minister, let alone a priest, Bishop or Pope. Civic history is littered with the stories of those who tried, let alone the history written in the words of the scriptures.
Much of that history contains the same elements as read in the book of Genesis…killing, lies, blame others for your faults, resort to violence, do anything to save your own skin. Many subscribed to their version that “power comes from the barrel of the gun” and that attitude is not limited to the current attitude of the Myanmar Generals or the Party in Beijing or the attitude of staffers in Canberra, let alone that of Facebook!
Down the centuries, we in church have suffered the fate of those elected to serve who, in a sense, became tyrants of all. Every now and then, a person like Catherine of Sienna or a Francis of Assisi turned up to remind us of what we ought to be about.
So, again, how do you establish your authority?
Some say Abraham learnt a great lesson in the events proclaimed in the first reading today. Don’t act like the accepted norms of those around you. Our God expects something different.
The Gospel account of happenings on yet another mountain reminds us that our actions need to be based on a severe listening to the words of God. Not always easy to listen, let alone listen to HIS words!
Paul speaking from, in a sense, both sides…after all he was armed with the charge to eliminate the followers of the new Way in Damascus, and had experience in dealing with Stephen…reminds us of the way in which God established authority through his Son…a great example of service and self-giving. Tough, but a better world will result if we act like that.
We might even be transfigured!