By Archbishop William E. Lori
The words “power” and “love” don’t seem to go together. Power tends to evoke fear. Love tends to evoke trust. We may be inclined to fear a powerful individual and are likely to trust a gentle, loving person, such as a friend or a spouse. But it is rare enough to find a person who is both powerful and loving. In fact, we may even experience that disconnect with regard to God. We rightfully address God as Almighty, all powerful. But we also speak of God as loving and merciful.
In truth, God is always powerful, truthful and loving. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Nothing can be in God’s power which could not be in his just will or his wise intellect” (CCC, 271). God uses his power to create and redeem, to share his truth, to reveal his love and to confer his goodness on creation. In his fatherly care for us, he takes care of our needs and calls us to be his sons and daughters. By his endless mercies, he exercises power over sin and even death (cf. CCC, 270). His power is his love, for as St. John teaches, “God is love.” God’s love is almighty and strong to save.
During the month of March we are journeying through Lent on our way to Easter Sunday. Holy Week will be the most dramatic moment when we share the power of God’s mercy and love, most especially Good Friday and Holy Saturday. As Christ is condemned and led forth to be crucified, he appears utterly powerless. He is all but deserted by his disciples. Even his heavenly Father seems to have abandoned him. Yet it was in that moment that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was most powerful.
For, as he mounted the gibbet of the cross, Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world and by means of suffering and death he robbed sin of its power to be the last word about human existence. Obedient to his Father’s saving will, Jesus used the instruments of suffering and death to defeat the power of sin and evil. And in the glory of the resurrection, Jesus manifested his power over sin and death. As St. John Paul II often said, the love of Christ crucified is stronger than sin and more powerful than death! With Mary we can say, “The Lord has done great things for us, we are glad indeed.”
Through the ages, we share in the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, the paschal mystery, principally through the Mass and the sacraments. Exalted at the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus truly remains with us in the power of his love in all the circumstances of our lives. Our Redeemer is never absent in our moments of triumph, in our daily routine, and in times of trouble and sorrow. In his wisdom, God does not prevent all sin and evil from occurring but he accompanies us at every moment of our lives, constantly seeking to expand our capacity to receive and give his love. If we allow the Lord to comfort us by the power of his love, then whatever good we experience or evil we endure is for our salvation. And as we seek to be his followers, his disciples, we experience his love and mercy more deeply, and we will want to share that experience with others.
As this edition of Catholic Review arrives in our homes and parishes, we are in the midst of Lent, on our own journey toward Holy Week and Easter. Through prayer, penance and charity, may we open our hearts as never before to the truth, beauty, goodness and power of God’s love.
Read more “Charity in Truth” columns here.