Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – 5-12-22

Reflection for the 4th Week of Easter, Thursday, 5-12-22, Year C
Readings: Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 2; Gospel Jn 13:16-20
Optional Memorial: St. Nereus & Achilleus, Martyrs, St. Pancras, Martyr
Theme: Great Power Requires Great Responsibility

You have heard it said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Unfortunately, there are many powerful people who do not understand this simple statement. With great power, true leaders should always remember the responsibility they have to those who they influence or lead.

Responsibility requires wisdom, knowledge, reverence, courage, understanding, right judgment, and awe of the Lord; these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those in power who heed these virtuous graces from God in the person of the Holy Spirit truly recognize the dignity of those they serve or lead and understand the great responsibility they have toward them.

Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Jesus was telling His disciples that tonight at this last supper, they will be ordained into the priesthood as messengers for Him to the world. Great power has been given them and with that power comes great responsibility. They will find out 53 days later at Pentecost (the birthday of the Church) just what the meaning of responsibility is through the gifts of the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete) given to them by Christ.

True leaders who wield great power and act with humility through the gifts of the Holy Spirit understand Jesus’ statement to the disciples, for their very actions, through this understanding, can only come from God Himself. Goodness and love, the ultimate outcome of great leadership, are embodied in God Himself. Whoever acts in this way acts as a representative of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

St. Paul finally understood this at his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was a powerful man in the Jewish hierarchy but was using his power to demean, torture, and kill those he was to serve. Jesus set him straight and converted his heart through a lesson in humility. Eventually, St. Paul received the gifts of the Holy Spirit through baptism and finally understood the meaning of the statement, “With great power comes great responsibility.” St. Paul’s mission was set and through his power of knowledge and influential speech, he became responsible to all people he met, friend or foe. Judas the Iscariot did not and paid the ultimate price.

For many of us, myself included, we do not wield great power, but we still have responsibility nonetheless to those around us. We are sent by Jesus as His messengers and, with that power comes great responsibility. Through our baptism we received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so we have the tools necessary to be an example of our master, Jesus, to others. As a leader, know that you were sent by Jesus and thus through Him, by God Himself.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL