Septmber 4, 2012
It’s intriguing....and I suggest more than a coincidence that the unclean demon shows up when he does. For his dramatic appearance on the stage is concluded and presaged by the same reality: Jesus, the Word made flesh, speaking with authority and power.
Before the demon appears, we hear that they are astonished because he speaks with authority and after the demon departs they are amazed that he speaks with authority and power.
The source of his authority and power is clear to us, and ironically, to the demon. But neither the disciples nor the Apostles nor the crowds yet understand that this Jesus of Nazareth is really the Holy One of God, the one through whom all things were made, who was at the beginning and who will come to judge the living and the dead at the end of time.
Authority and power.
I remember I was given a pyx when I was in seminary which made me a bit uneasy. It was inscibed with a line from the preocnciliar rite of ordination of a priest. It said: Accipe potestatem offerendi sacramentum...
Now this was the 70’s and I was uneasy, i any context, with the word power, despite the fact that these were the words whih the Church had used for many centuries as the Bishop presented the newly ordained with a prepared chalice and paten: Accept the power to offer the sacrifice for the living and the dead...
I’m not sure why I was so resitant to the concept of a priest posessing power...maybe it had to do with the Vietnam war or just being a child of the sixties or maybe it was my adolescant take on the powerlessness of the the poverello. But a priest and power just didn’t seem to fit.
But I have changed, and I would believe that if a priest has been given no power to offer sacrifice, than the Cross has no power, and the one through whom all things were made had no power, and its all a vapid myth.
The truth is Christ did offer the perfect sacrifice which won our salvation upon the altar of the cross. And, to quote Pope Paul VI, the priestly power to offer sacrifice, accomplished through the laying on of hands “is the continuation of the power of Christ, the High Priest of the New Testament.”
It is a different power than the one we receive in Baptism to offer the sacrifice of our lives as a Holy people, a Royal Priesthood. The power of the ordained Priest, according the Preface of Ordination and the Chrism Mass is to “renew in his name the sacrifice of human redemption [and] set before [God’s] children the paschal banquet: to lead [his] holy people in charity,....nourish them with the word and strengthen them with the Sacraments.”
Now that’s power! For just as the self-emptying love unto death of the Lord offered upon on the cross is more powerful than any weapon or force the world will ever see, so is the power of the Priest to offer the sacrifice of that cross able to defeat every demon and principality, every sin and and deadly evil. It is, quite simply, the most potent sarifice the world will ever know.
And God has chosen to offer it through your hands, in order to redeem ever” “tribe and tongue and people and nation.”1 He has chosen you to “celebrate anew the sprinkling of his Blood, in which lies all our salvation.”2 through your hands; to restore his holy people “with heavenly food and drink [throuh your hands;] and...to protect from fear of [their] enemies”3 and to lead [them] to everlasting life.
Nor is this power just some theological or philisophical niceity. It is real.
It is as real as woman who whose hands tembling with all the fears of this who hands she hands you the cruests and paten;
It is as real as the voice of the people who pray that this sacrifice may be acceptable at your hands;
Is it as real as the seminarian whose heart leaps out of his chest and clings to that Chalice you place on the Altar;
It is as real as the gaze of perfect faith from that nun who has given it all over to God;
It is as real as the man dying of cancer who receives Communion with tears in his eyes;
It is as real as the presence that comes to be through your hands because he laid his hands on your head...
You....yeah you. God knows why you and me.
But through your hands, they look upon him still and they are amazed, for he acts with power and authority still.
1- Entrance Antiphon, Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
2- Prayer Over the Offerings, Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
3- Prayer After Communion, Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
Monsignor James P. Moroney