Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
"For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and out they come!" Luke 4:36
I ask myself, "Can it be possible for me to accept, daily, the authority and power of God, through Jesus Christ his Son?" I am assured by St. Paul that I am not in darkness, despite that the time and seasons appear that way. " Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. spoke of this authority in his acceptance of the Nobel Peace prize, December 10, 1964. "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "is-ness" of man’s (sic) present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "ought-ness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright day break of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
These sentiments capture the authority of Jesus Christ in the face of evil embodied in the spirit of a person depicted in today’s Gospel. This happened on several occasions after Jesus experienced a grace-filled moment from God, there would be confrontation with a person possessed with evil, e.g., after his inaugural mission statement in the synagogue, and, immediately coming down from the mountain where the Transfiguration had transpired.
Can it be possible for me to accept daily the authority and power of God through Jesus Christ? We have saints like Gregory the Great to personify how God works through those who stay awake and alert. Ordained at 38, appointed abbot of the Benedictines at 46, becoming Pope at 50. So I accept each day that the authority of the Lord Jesus is in me. St. Paul tells us that we can expect resistance and pain, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman. The Christian life is a daily adventure assuming that I remain alert and sober in the reality in which I am placed, knowing that I am destined, not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.