If you are human, and I am betting you are, then there is no doubt in my mind that the world and its state of affairs has been pressing heavy on your heart these last few weeks.
The world’s mess and brokenness and pain can seem so very big at times. And we can feel so very, very small. It is easy to feel powerless in the face of it all.
But we are not powerless. Jesus’ resurrection glory earned us what? It earned us power. He asks the apostles to “wait in the city until they are clothed with power” (Luke 24:49) and He promises that we “will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.” (Acts 1:8)
We have to cling to this and be people who use the power the Holy Spirit gave us to affect change in our world. We cannot throw up our hands and wag our fingers at the world with a “that’s what you get attitude” nor can we cocoon safely into our little comfort zones out of fear.
God did not give us a Spirit of fear and he commanded us to love to the ends of the earth. And the ends of our earth need us to believe for them these days, to have hope for them these days, to love for them days. Because they are weary and weak and persecuted and broken, and we have responsibility to help them carry their crosses and whisper resurrection hope to them in their pain.
Sometimes I think we discount ourselves and our power to make a difference. We wait around for the true heroes in capes and makes to show up and save the world.
Can I tell you something? The world does not need superheroes. It needs us.
It has already been saved. And it needs the disciples of that Good News to use the power that is theirs to change our world.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of people, especially Christian people, if presented with someone dying of thirst in their midst, would do all they could to alleviate that person’s thirst and get him/her the help needed. I do not doubt that if a friend or family member was displaced from home because of war or disaster, we would offer shelter and safety and comfort to the best of our ability.
But when those same needs present themselves far away from us, it is harder for us to know how to respond. We feel disconnected and don’t feel the same sense of responsibility for meeting the need.
But one thing does not change with the distance. The fact is that we hold the majority of the world’s resources in our American hands and our American homes. And we are called to distribute them on behalf of the poor and the forsaken and the needy, whether they be faces we can see and hands we can hold or brothers and sisters whose names we shall never know who live in a dusty land we may not even be able to locate on the map.
The world is desperate for us to accept this fact. To claim the power that is ours in Christ and to use it on their behalf. We must stop explaining away our blessings and our responsibility to them.
Instead, we should seek to know from whom our power comes, and use it in the way He would have us use it.
How can we do that?
- Pray to the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis is begging our prayers for peace, for help, for relief for this weary world. Are we praying half-hearted prayers that echo a sentiment that it is useless, that there is no cure for the complex mess we have made of our world? Or are we praying like people clothed with power from on high? People waiting for the Spirit’s command to go out into the world and act on God’s behalf. Are we watching the news headlines and the pleas for help in the same way the Levite passed by the wounded, beaten man on the side of the road, sympathetic, but unwilling to get our hands dirty? Or are we looking at the world’s headlines with Samaritan’s eyes? Moved to true compassion that requires an active response? Let us think about how we are praying and pray as people who have the power to respond, to initiate change, to move from passive sympathy to active compassion.
- Consider the priorities. There are so, so many ways need to respond to and, if I am honest, I think we use that as an excuse to shut down and walk away at times. “I sponsor a child in Guatemala. I can’t do it all.” “I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll give money at Church and surely they will do something good with it.” Neither of these is a wrong response, but I think we could do so much better than that if we truly took hold of the power the Holy Spirit has laid upon us. I think we could respond with fiery compassion and fervent hope to the world’s needs. Especially the priority ones. So even if you are already responding to some very worthy causes, I urge you consider how you might add, in this grave moment of human history, these three urgent needs to your giving:
- Think bigger than yourself. Imagine a group of your friends all fired up with the power of the Holy Spirit and moved to respond to a global need. Imagine your entire Church community. Imagine the whole Church taking individual and collective responsibility for our brothers and sisters lying on the sides of the world’s roads bloodied and wounded. What could happen? What can you do to bring that about?
- Gather a group of friends or families to pray for the Holy Spirit to show you how He would have you respond to these needs.
- Commit to taking one action step together. Raise awareness. Raise funds. Come together and use power to cry out on behalf of those who need us.
- Bring it to the next level. Keep taking the next step up. From that group of friends or families, where can you go next? Your neighborhood, church parish, school, homeschool group? Use your collective power to galvanize the next wider circle of people. Each time you have success, consider how you push out a little further, a little wider. Use your God-given power one step at a time to meet one urgent need in some way. He will guide you to the next step.
We are people of the Spirit. We are people of power. Let us live and act accordingly.
“But as for me I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord and with justice and might.”