Where do we obtain our personal power? As we grow and develop our innate talents, as we nurture strengths, as we overcome weaknesses, we build power. We may be fortunate by birth to be in a position of power. We may obtain power by advancement in our jobs and professions, by our work within organizations, by our sharing of our talents. We build power by the integrity with which we lead our lives, by the honesty we manifest when we interact with people, by the trust that we create in the people around us as we treat them with dignity and respect. I don’t think we normally have a light bulb moment that we suddenly know we have power, but I think as we reflect on our lives and capacities we grow into a realization that we have the ability to shape events and have an impact on people.
In the late 1970s there was a television show called “Mork and Mindy” starring Robin Williams, who played an alien visiting earth. In one episode Mork reluctantly shares some of his alien power with his new earthly friends. Predictably, they misuse the power and cause Mork great consternation. Instead of recognizing the power as a gift and exploring how to use it in correct ways, Mork’s friends abused the power and caused harm, not good.
Much of the “theology” of the “Star Wars” movies centers on the mysterious force that pervades the universe. One of the tasks for Luke Skywalker is learning to use this power. His guide, Yoda, despairs when Luke breaks off his training before he has learned to fully appreciate the depth of his power to harness the force and to avoid the dark side. Although Luke ultimately acts heroically, the risk existed that he would be seduced by the dark side to abuse his power.
Ignatius recognized that we all have power, and that God calls us to surrender that power to do the will of God, not to abuse it by pursuing our own selfish aims. The “Suscipe” is such a wonderful prayer of reminder that we are dependent on God, that our best action is to surrender all that we have – our talents, our will, our power – to the Lord for disposition. In a song adaptation of this prayer, “These Alone Are Enough,” Dan Schutte has penned a wonderful line about this surrender that Ignatius reminds us is at the core of our relationship with God – “When the darkness falls on my final days, take the very breath that sang your praise.” I can’t sing that line without becoming emotional and thinking of relatives and friends, and my own ultimate death, and wondering at the faith it takes to enter into this final surrender with hope and not fear.
Jesus easily shared the power of healing to the hurting woman. He was aware of His power and that it had gone out from Him. How aware are we of our power, and how we are using it? Are we using it to do good, or are we abusing it as did Mork’s friends? Are we using our power to improve the life of others, or are we seduced by the “dark side” of life that encourages us to act for ourselves? Can we sing or pray the “Suscipe” and be aware of consciously, freely, and without hesitation surrendering our power, even our final breath, to God’s will?
And so my prayer today is for a greater appreciation of my power, and the gift of generosity so I can surrender it, not hoard it, and thus to be a channel for God’s work in building the kingdom here on earth.
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