Greetings from lockdown…with handcuffs this time, an interesting use of authority and power, yet again!
Matthew uses authority in our Sunday translation. Other translations use power and that has started, after a due lockdown pause, a line of thought.
The events in Belarus in recent days illustrates the understanding of ‘authority/power’ being proclaimed in our world at the moment. To that event we add the trial of the Australian journalist in Beijing; the arrest, trial and sentencing of the Independent Media mogul, the Catholic Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong; our Churches being bombed in Myanmar and so the list goes on. There is a recent book on Putin and how the KGB recaptured Russia where, in vivid detail, the philosophy guiding these regimes is spelt out.
No wonder my friends in Estonia are worried!
Against this we come up to the Great Commission this weekend in Jesus’ words to his disciples, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”
It is to be exercised not by guns or stuffing ballot boxes with false votes, but by “baptising in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. No wonder some hesitated!
Occasionally, I wish that his power would cleanse the world as his Son cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem!
And there is the rub. The Trinity is holiness and love, the battle royal is not between rockets and bombs but between fighting and love.
We are called to be on the side of love.
We are called, especially as disciples, to recognise that the loving Father has given his commission to his only Son who in turn offers us, through Baptism, a share in that loving power. We are not alone when we attempt to carry out the Great Commission, the Spirit of the Risen Christ will guide us and protect us and be with us until the job is done.
Paul writes, “The Spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives…”
Jimmy Lai commented, “If they can induce fear in you that’s the cheapest way to control you and the most effective way and they know it. The only way to defeat the way of intimidation is to face up to fear and don’t let it frighten you”.
We have “the spirit of (family)” and for help we can cry out “Abba Father”.
Amongst others this weekend, ask the Trinity to strengthen Jimmy Lai!