In the book of the Apocalypse (also
known as Revelations) Saint John has a vision of a being
that terrifies him. He describes what he saw like this:
…I saw one like a Son of man… His
head and his hair were white with the whiteness of wool, like snow,
his eyes like a burning flame, his feet like burnished bronze… out
of his mouth came a sharp sword, double edged, and his face was like
the sun shining with all its force (Rev 1:13-16).
John writes that he was so afraid when
he saw this being that he fell down as if dead. But then the
being in the vision touched him and said: ‘Do not be afraid; it is
I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One, I was dead and look—I
am alive for ever and ever and I hold the keys of death and the
underworld’ (Rev 1:17-18).
Who was this being?
It was of course Jesus, the one that John had lived with for three
years. Why would Jesus who was so close to John, appear to him
in this frightening form? Perhaps to remind John and us, who
he really is. Not just the Jesus whose name we carelessly throw around
as a swear word, but Jesus who is Son of God, who will come to judge
the living and the dead. This is the one we believe in.
When we die we will all come before him face to face and all people
of every religion will understand who He is and what He has done for
At the moment we are
seeing huge changes in the world around us. So much earthly
power which seemed to be untouchable has collapsed over night.
Even the great structures of the Church seem to be shaking.
In many ways it is a very disturbing, even frightening time.
But I think that we need to remember who it is we believe in and who
it is we put our trust in. If we put our trust and hope in
earthly power we will be disappointed as we know only too well,
because people will let us down. If we rely too much on the
human side of our Church we will be disappointed, as we have been.
But the one we trust in and believe in is Jesus the Christ who is God.
All things are in his power and all things are completely subject to
him. Sometimes you get the impression especially from
Hollywood, that the battle between good and evil, between God and
Satan, is an equal one. It is not. There is no question
of evil being equal to God. All things are totally subject to God and I
think we need to be reminded of that.
priest—especially at the moment—I need to keep reminding myself
that Jesus is the one I worship as God and try to serve. If I
stay focused on the world around me I will find myself getting depressed
or disillusioned. Also if I spend too much time worrying about
the state of the Church I also find it hard to keep going. But
the Lord keeps reminding me that He is the one I need to stay focused
on, because He is the one in charge. He is master of all
things. What we see happening in the Church at the moment is
the work of his power purifying his Church, because He loves us and
will not allow his people to continue with poison festering under the
skin. And so He allows his Church to be purified and renewed,
which is what we see happening. I have no doubt that what is
happening in the world is also a kind of melt-down which God is
allowing which will bring many people back to him. There is nothing like
a crisis to focus the mind!
People who have a certain amount of
power like to show it off and make it felt. People who are
really powerful don’t seem to feel the need to show it off as much.
But God who is all-powerful, goes one step further and shows his
power in weakness. This is an extraordinary thing and
something we find very difficult to get our heads around.
The greatest demonstration of God’s
power was shown to us in the death of Jesus on the cross. The
Lord God did the exact opposite to what we would do and showed his
power by not doing anything; by appearing to be a failure.
So the people laughed at him and mocked him, not realising that what
they looked at was a demonstration of the greatest power of God. This is
why we use the symbol of the cross and why it is so powerful.
This is also why Satan hates the symbol of the cross, because it is a
symbol of the extraordinary power of God and it is a reminder of the
event that broke the power of sin and death.
St. Paul in the first letter to the
We are preaching Christ
crucified; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the
pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are
Jew or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God (1Cor
What the power of Jesus on the cross
also shows us is that in the bleakest and darkest situations of pain
and suffering, loneliness and abandonment, Christ is there with us,
in his strength. We are never alone no matter what we are going
through. God is with us.
Jesus Christ is our king, the most
powerful king on earth. If we accept him as our king, we also share
in his power, but it is not a power as we normally think of power and this is
where many people find it hard to accept. We want something
that we can see and touch. We want to know that we are
important and that our King is the greatest of all. But God in
his wisdom knows that this isn’t the most important kind of power.
If Jesus is Lord and God as we say we
believe He is, then we have nothing to be afraid of.
Every being in heaven, on earth and under the earth,
shall bend the knee at the name of Jesus;
and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).