The seventy returned to Jesus with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’
What does the word ‘power’ mean to you? Does it conjure thoughts of super-heroes with their imaginary powers that defy the laws of physics? Does it conjure images of those who are invested with ‘power’ by the state? Does it remind you of someone you know who likes to exercise power over the ways in which those around them behave … and think!? Does it bring to mind all those wonderful stories we read in the gospels: stories of Jesus’ power to work miracles and to heal the sick? What does the word ‘power’ mean to you?
In today’s reading we encounter Jesus devolving his authority … his power … over all that is evil in this world to those who are his disciples and apostles. This was not a one-off event. That power to wield good and to face up to the evil that is so prevalent in our world continues to be passed on to all who profess and live a life of faith in Jesus Christ.
The power we are offered is not, of course, like those of the comic-book super heroes. The power Jesus is entrusting to us is the certain knowledge of God’s ultimate victory over all that challenges us in this life. If we accept Christ’s invitation into a life of faithful discipleship and active apostleship we can be certain that, provided we remain true to our commitment, we will, in our time, come to enjoy the eternal life in God’s nearer presence which Jesus came into this world to bring for all.
Sadly, when set against the demands of faithful discipleship and active apostleship, the ‘glamour’ of wielding worldly power can seem very attractive indeed. Human beings like to dominate and control the lives of those they perceive to be weaker than themselves. Jesus’ model of discipleship is, more often than not, seen as weakness by those who enjoy the feelings they derive from exercising their worldly power.
For those who strive to live the Christian life, today’s reading offers both strength and consolation. Jesus, the one who watched Satan fall from heaven, is offering us authority … over all the power of the enemy. At times it may feel as though the enemy has the upper hand but, if we remain true and strong, we will be the ones who come to understand what the authority Jesus invests in us can really do.
Let us pray that we might set aside our human desire for power over others, thus distancing ourselves from God. Let us pray that no matter what the enemy may throw at us, we may remain steadfast in our faith. Let us pray that, in our time, we may see the power of Jesus revealed as he casts aside all that is evil and reigns in glory.