“For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God!” (Rm 1:16)
The Gospel is the very power of God. In the original language, the word used here by St. Paul for “power” is “dynamis,” the similar word we use for dynamite. So, it’s not too far of a stretch to call the Gospel the dynamite of God.
This is precisely what we see in the account of Jesus’ first miracle in the Gospel of Mark. (Mk 1:21-28) At the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus’ hometown for public ministry, Jesus encounters the kingdom of darkness head on and teaches as one with authority and the ability even to cast out demons.
What Mark doesn’t recount for us is the actual content of Jesus’ teaching, but instead he emphasizes the dramatic details of Jesus commanding the unclean spirit, or demon, to leave. Mark’s whole purpose here is to show the dynamite of Christ’s teaching. His teaching is not something inactive or ineffective. No — instead, the words of Christ are explosive and reveal the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.
Notice the demon does not refer to itself in the singular, but rather says: “Have you come to destroy us?” You see, the demon realizes that the kingdom of God has come in the very words of Jesus, and His teaching is an all-out assault on the kingdom of darkness. Because Jesus Christ is the eternal word of God the Father who took on human flesh, His words have the same effect as the Word that created the entire universe – from the billions of stars throughout the galaxy to the incomprehensible mystery of the human person; that is, you and me. The demons tremble at this reality, because they recognize that even a single command from our Lord is capable of bringing their destruction.
Is this our own experience with the Word of God and the teaching of Jesus? Do we find the Gospel to be the very dynamite of God that is capable of setting the entire world ablaze? Do we truly believe that the Word of God in itself has the power to do what it says?
Like those early Jews in the synagogue at Capernaum, perhaps we should open our eyes to see the radical newness of the words spoken by Jesus. They are words that have the very effect they speak. After all, this is precisely what we believe about the sacraments.
You see, those words alone, the words of Jesus, are the very power of God. They are capable of truly absolving sins and healing the sick. The same is true of the Word of God found in sacred Scripture — it truly has the power to transform the world.
And so it is – the Word of God, Jesus, is dynamite in us. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews (Hb 12:29) even says that “our God is a consuming fire.” His fame is meant to explode in our homes, cities and nation. After all, that is precisely what those first Jews did after seeing Jesus in the synagogue. And we don’t simply see Jesus like those in the synagogue — in His Word and sacraments we truly become one with Him.
Even in this time when many of us may not be able to physically receive Jesus in the Eucharist, His Word is still living and active — the same Word that makes the Eucharist present is the same Word living in the Bible. It has the real power to transform human hearts.
So, why not present our dry and desolate hearts as a wick to be set aflame with the power of the Gospel?
Brian Isenbarger is a seminarian of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. He is studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
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