The other day I posted a piece that points out one of the most significant things I learned in graduate school at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. It was a term all the professors used, and I came to understand it in a way that gave me a clarity I had not possessed previously when it comes to our relationship with God. The term is: “The economy of God”. For me that provided clarity for the way God’s grace (love) moves in the world and how I am a part of that. His love ebbs and flows depending on our awareness and willingness to recognize and act on the gifts and tasks he gives us. It really is a lot like a financial system.
Within the system we are free to accept or reject His gifts, to keep them, give them away or give them back. Sometimes we completely miss the hidden treasures. The more aware we become about how God is acting in our life the more powerful we become. We are not talking about the ability to bring lightning from the sky but, rather, the ability to carry out God’s will and to clearly teach others about Him. The power really lies in the ability to see God in everything and everyone plus a tangible awareness that He is present with us every minute of every day. John Paul II had this power. Saint Teresa of Calcutta had this power. Francis Xavier Cabrini had this power. Jesus had this power! Actor/poet, healer/miracle worker, real estate mogul, Savior. You and I have equal opportunity to have the exact same power as these. In your everyday life, you might have observed that the power ebbs and flows for you depending on your state of grace [Church speak].
When you are brand new in the serious practice of the spiritual life, the ebbing and flowing of that power is pretty much a mystery. As you grow and mature, though, you learn things. First of all, the power that will blossom as a result of your relationship with God has absolutely nothing to do with others and how they treat you! Surprise! People will be people and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes not so much! In every situation we experience, there is the constant choice to recognize that God is present and we have an ever-free ability to willingly tap into his wisdom or not.
[Jesus] Whoever is not with me is against me (Lk 11:23)
As with any scenario in life, then, how things go for you and the way you become the face of Jesus in the real world is a matter of choice. Even in that freedom, you have been given power. You have the power to choose or not choose God’s will. The idea of this power and how it manifests can be observed at a macro or micro level. We can see it occurring in economics, trade, politics, religion and pop culture. There is no really separating the power that God generously gives the world and personal, political power. It’s all the same source and all the same result depending on its use or misuse. Even “great” mad men, dictators, abusers and criminals knew that this power was real. Hitler overturned half of Europe looking for the Arc of the Covenant because there was something in him that knew there was no other true source of power. The communists knew the end of their “false” power was near when it was plain that JPII had become pivotal in the Solidarity movement!
Like it or not, as believers, we are very much part of God’s power loop and how it moves through the world. This is probably a scary thought for some but remember the very first words of John Paul II’s pontificate as well as 365 citations in the scriptures: “Do not be afraid.” Most of us will probably not be world players but we are still each responsible for the divine power that God decides to funnel through us. Our ability to do that should be taken seriously. As they say in education circles, “It’s learned behavior. It’s also the “secret” of life, the “how” in how to be happy.
I suppose that it is easy enough to view fear as a nameless, faceless force that we have no control of. The enemy would consider it a great accomplishment if he got you to think that way. The truth is, that’s a lie of the boldest kind! In God’s power loop all we have to do is pay attention. We can be our own best friends or worse enemies. When we give in to those things that are easy to succumb to we give away our power. Don’t let anger, envy, jealousy, and fear rob you of your power. That’s really what they were meant to do. It’s like stealing from yourself. Do keep God uppermost in your thoughts and considerations even when it all seems lost. Solutions sometimes show up in the most unexpected ways.
“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.” – St. Théodore Guérin
“We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and our total surrender. Once we really belong to him then he is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases.”
— St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Thirsting for God