power plus

Dec 11, 2018

When looking at the readings of the day it’s easy to skip over the psalm between the first reading and gospel. This is unfortunate because these ancient prayers often carry the key to a deeper understanding of the scriptures, and every psalm is a prayer that Jesus would have known by heart and prayed regularly.

Take a moment to consider the responsory from today’s psalm: “Here is our God, coming with power.”

Power gets a pretty negative press these days with so many reports of the misuse and abuse of power. If we refer to a person as powerful we are not necessarily complementing them.

However without power our world would not function.

And without the power of God humans cannot function happily and healthily.

This is because in the same way that the computer I am typing on at this moment needs to be physically connected to a power supply, a human being needs to be connected to God. This need for connection is not a flaw in the computer design. Neither is my need for connection with God a flaw or a weakness in my humanity. The need I have for the power of God is by divine design.

My major problem in life is that I don’t tap this divine power often enough. I forget just how needy I really am and I politely turn to God periodically for a bit of help instead of calling out constantly and desperately as a beggar who knows his need and reaches out in need of everything.

Too often we fall into the trap of reducing God to a “spiritual” being considering Jesus to be more like a childhood “imaginary friend.” We miss the fact that scriptures are persistent and consistent in reminding us that Jesus is present really, physically and tangibly and He wants to use His divine power to work miracles in our lives.

The presence and action of Jesus in your life in December 2018 is as real as the beating of your heart, and there are moments (albeit at times rare) when our being vibrates with excitement at the presence of God-with-us.

The power of God who created the world, parted the waters for the Israelites, healed the sick, gave the blind sight, restored life to those who were dead, this power of God is available to us today. All we need to do is call out and ask.

In Christchurch hospital a few months ago I noticed a poster on the door of the chaplaincy office which read: “Don’t tell God that you have a big problem. Tell your problem that you have a big [and powerful] God!”

In a homily recently I reflected that we often consider God to be something of a good neighbour who doesn’t live in our house but who is often available to give us a hand when we need it. We begin a meeting praying (and I exaggerate here for effect): Lord come down from your far away heaven and give us a hand for the next hour or two. Then at the end of the meeting we pray (again I exaggerate for effect): Lord thank you for being with us and for your help. Good bye!

Our prayer needs to be more immediate, more desperate and more urgent praying that we will be open to the power of God:

Lord Jesus,
you are present.
You are powerful.
But our own fears and agendas
blind us to your presence
and we are nervous
about letting your power loose in our lives
because we fear that your will for us
might be different from our will for ourselves.

Open our senses to the power of your love
Give us the wisdom to know
that your ways will bring us deeper joy and greater success
than we would ever ask or imagine.

Take away our fear
and help us to welcome
your power into our lives.


An Invitation

The reflections of FFF readers in the comments section of these posts has always been an essential part of the nourishment shared here. However in these Advent weeks readers’ comments have moved to a new depth and power with a significant number of you expressing gratitude to me for what others are sharing.

Please don’t be afraid to share a sentence or two or a paragraph. Taking time to share in this way not only helps you to appreciate the presence and action of Jesus in your own life, Your words can also be a great encouragement to others.

Thank you!


  1. Powerful stuff Fr John! Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this. We realise that this power of the universe is also as small as a new born child. It is manifest in the abundance of nature and a home in our hearts,
    Fr John, you remind us that in the awareness of Advent, each of is is a stable housing God newborn.

  3. Today I have an exam I was very nervous about until this moment. God’s will be done! If the result isn’t what I was hoping, this wasn’t my path. Show me Your way. Thank Fr John for this moment of clarity and peace.

  4. I love the prayer John and that it is written to look like the shape of a Christmas tree…..(was that intentional??!) another reminder to slow down, breathe and pray at this crazy busy time of year.

  5. Encouraging today as I have many concerns ,both physical & financial leading up to Christmas .
    So today I will try to remember to tap in to our Holy power source

  6. Not only do I have a fear to overcome (perhaps learned as a child), also a human stubbornness that I can muscle thru each day.
    Bless you Fr John, for reminding me to carry each dawn through my day – where God as shown Himself in my working life.

  7. ‘Here is Our God coming with power’. I pray to be more aware of this reality and that I’ll stop making God as small as myself and remember that my ‘God is a big God’.
    Thanks Fr John.

  8. John. I like the image of the power source and the computer. Use the wrong voltage and we remain underpowered or conversely we burn out. Having that power attached is essential but it still means I have to take responsibility for using the computer wisely and creatively or badly and destructively. The power to the computer does not take over or promise “success” but it provides the energy with which we then shape our actions. Become disconnected however and we eventually stop working.

  9. Thanks John for the reminder and the challenge of the way we pray. Just imagine how much more effective our various parish meetings would be if we prayed more in line with the second version rather than the first!

  10. Enjoyed this reflection. I liked the reference to asking God to be present for the meeting. It’s good to remember that God is always present and not just a visitor popping in.

  11. Thanks Fr John , “We have an all powerful God” reminds me of Romans 8. 28 ” God works for good in all things” ( yes even in all our sicknesses etc. !).

  12. There was a mystic (I can’t remember her name – might be Hildegarde) who talked about the ‘is-ness of God’ – God’s hand in all created things – like a blade of grass.
    We are completely dependent upon God. He IS constantly with us – think for a moment about our absolute dependence on His air that we breathe. That’s 12 to 20 encounters per minute. Second by second, 24/7, for life.
    See how connected we are by His initiative? So lean on Him – He is waiting.

  13. Thanks Father John for the Christmas tree prayer may we stop making our BIG God as small as ourselves.

  14. “Here is our God, coming with power”
    I love how those words, express such confidence in God.

  15. God’s Grace is irresistible and powerful. The power of god.

  16. Fr. John many thanks for ‘opening my senses to the power of God’s love.’ The irritation yesterday was because I was unplugged.

  17. I find that God’s will for me is expressed infrequently in my life and its obscure with times. I came to the realisation that I have to accept that God uses me in very small ways for very small periods of time to achieve what will not be revealed to me.


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