Skip to comments.Stir Up Your Mighty Power Lord and Come! An Advent Meditation on the Paradox of God’s Power
Posted on 12/02/2019 7:53:53 AM PST by Salvation
One of the great cries of Advent is for God to rend the heavens and come down (Is 64:1), for Him to stir up his mighty power and come to save us (Ps 80:2). But what is it that we really seek? Is it armies with thunder and lightning? Is it vindication and peace on our terms? In a way, it is a dangerous cry if we mean it that way, for who of us can say that no wrath should come to us but only to those other people who deserve it? If God should come in thunderous judgement, are you and I really so sure we could endure and be numbered among the just?
It is clear that we need the Lord to save us, but is that salvation seen only in earthly terms where salvation is from my enemies and I myself remain largely unharmed?
In the final essay of volume 11 of his collected works (which I just finished reading), Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict) ponders a similar Advent theme. Id like to present his reflections, and add a few of my own. In a sermon from December 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger taught,
Stir up your might O Lord and come! This was the cry of Israel in exile this was the cry of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee [in the storm] Wake up O Lord and help us! And throughout all of history, the little bark of the Church travels in stormy waters Stir up your might and come!
What really is this might of God that seems to be asleep and must be wakened? St. Paul gives the answer in 1 Corinthians when he says that Christ the Crucified One, who is foolishness and weakness to men, is the wisdom and power of God.
Therefore, when we ask for this real power of God, we are not asking for more money for the Church, for more buildings, for more structures, for more political influence. We are praying for this special, entirely different power of God. We are praying with the awareness that he comes in a powerful way that seems to the world to be weakness and foolishness (Joseph Ratzinger, Collected Works, Vol 11: 595-596).
Yes, here is the paradox of Gods power: He defeats Satans pride by the humility of His Son; disobedience and the refusal to be under any authority are defeated by the obedience and submission of Jesus.
Once stirred, Gods power will not alwaysor even oftenmanifest itself in thunder and lightning or in armies that shatter and destroy. Rather, His strong and outstretched arm is often found nailed and bloody on the cross. Yet here, and in this way, he defeats Satan. How? Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred; only love can do that. And pride cannot drive out pride; only humility can do that.
And thus the Lord defeats Satan; not by the becoming a bigger, fiercer, more vengeful version of Satan, but by canceling Satans grievous stance with its opposite. It is the Lords refusal to meet Satans terms, to become anything like him or in any way enter his world. In this way, the Lord conquers pride with humility and hate with love. I am mindful of some of the words from an old hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did eer such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
The hymn concludes with these words:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Cardinal Ratzinger continues his essay as follows:
He does not come with military divisions; he comes instead with a wounded heart that apparently has nothing more to say, yet then proves to be the true and wholly other power and might of God.
This paradox should challenge us mightily, because it means that Gods help will often not be on our terms. We would like to have every foe vanquished and every harmful sorrow of our life removed. No cross at all; just stir up your power Lord and take it all away. But that is not usually how Gods power stirs in this paradise lost, which we chose by our own ratification of Adam and Eves sinful choice. We preferred a tree and its fruit to God and He does not cancel our choice. Instead, He plants the tree of the Cross and saves us by the very suffering and death we chose in the ancient Garden of Eden.
Here is Gods true power at work in this sin-soaked and rebellious world: the power of Cross. And if you didnt know what you were asking for when praying, Stir up your power, Lord, and come to save us, now you do. We might prefer that God save us on our terms, by the mere vanquishing of our foes and the removal of our suffering, but (as St. Paul teaches) power is made perfect in weakness; it is when we are weak that we are strong, for then the power of God rests on us (cf 2 Cor 12:9-10).
Cardinal Ratzinger then sets forth the challenge of this prayer for us:
[Hence our true declaration is] Lord wake us up from our drowsiness in which we are incapable of perceiving you, in which we conceal and impede the coming of your holy power.
Christianity is not a moral system in which we may merely roll up our sleeves and change the world. We see in the movements that have promised us a better world how badly that turns out!
But [on the other hand] Christians are not merely spectators rather [the Lord] involves us; he desires to be efficacious in and through us And so the in this cry we pray to him for ourselves and allow our own hearts to be touched: Your power is in us, rouse it and help us not to be an obstacle to it, but, rather, its witnesses [to its] vital strength.
That may well mean suffering, martyrdom, and loss. It may not, and often does not, mean that God will simply vanquish our foes and remove all our suffering. In this world the saving remedy is the Cross; not just for others but for us, too. On Good Friday, Christ looked like a loser. Satan and the world danced. But on Sunday, the Lord got up. Friday was first, Saturday lingered, and then came Sunday. As for Christ, so also for us: always carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that also the life of Jesus may be manifested in us (2 Cor 4:10). The victory will come but it comes through the paradoxical power of the Cross.
Does this Advent reflection sound too much like Lent for you? Why do you think we are wearing purple?
Now pray with me (but be sure to understand what you are asking): Stir up your power, Lord, and come to save us!
Here is the common Psalm for Advent: Lord make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Well, I am back after moving. Still a lot of things to put away — as I type with the keyboard on my lap since my new desk doesn’t arrive until the 10th.
Monsignor Pope Ping
Beautiful reflection, Thank You
Glad to have you back.
Every year after Thanksgiving, I make a wreath (bought from the store) and place candles and holders in and around the wreath, each night after dinner, we light a candle to thank Our Lord for us being able to see the light...
I have been thinking about this idea lately, in terms of Caesar's realm as well as God's (Matt. 22:21).
Scripture teaches us that God is infinitely more everything good compared to Satan, and so can't possibly lose to Satan, even if it seems that God is "losing" at a given point in history. God, therefore, doesn't have to lower Himself to Satan's level in order to defeat Satan. So when we ask God to come and save us, we have to be willing to accept God's will being done on earth as in heaven, as we pray in the Lord's Prayer.
But this doesn't work in Caesar's realm, the realm of politics and secular power. In Caesar's realm, the enemy sets the rules of engagement, and if we act otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for defeat.
In God's realm we need holy saints, but in Caesar's we need God-fearing warriors. In God's realm we need Francis Assisis and Francis Xaviers, Thomas a Kempi and Thomas Aquini, but in Caesar's realm we need Davids, Jehus, Charles Martels, George Pattons--and Donald Trumps.
Jesus is humble, while as our Lord is still in control.
He allows us the freedom to chose our path to accept His love or reject it, while still providing graces and encouragement to choose good and avoid evil and lead His Church.
We see the negative, the evil in others and sometimes in ourselves) and often miss the positive that God inspires. We see the ways of the world, and we as the Body of Christ need to stand with Christ as Archbishop Vigano and others have done to protect the Catholic faith and morals.
We are thankful that we have the Mass and the Eucharist to spread the Good News.
God Bless you Salvation.
Good to see you back.
Feel free to take tomorrow off this if you feel like using a actual desk.
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