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Almighty God: Fr Salifu writes on the attributes of God

Among the attributes or titles of God, the title Almighty may be the most used and loved. Indeed, God is omnipotent: he is all powerful. This image makes us recall the mighty works of God: creating the world out of nothing, dividing the red sea into two, striking evil people down with his mighty wrath, among others. And if you think these are just Old Testament thoughts about God, then come to the New Testament: Jesus Christ calms the storms, walks on water, and drives out demons by his word. His disciples by virtue of the authority given to them also manifest the power of God to the extent that their shadow brings back the dead (Cf. Luke 10:19, Acts 5:15.

Our mundane understanding of what power is, can create a caricature form of what divine omnipotence means: a divine attribute which promises the a superman-kind of God, who flies into our situation- he himself indestructible- and fixes all problems by the snap of a finger. We, therefore, think of what we would do if we had such unlimited power and project it on God. It’s difficult for us to understand why a person can have so much power to eradicate evil and yet be that merciful and tolerant: moving all things and everyone gradually towards perfection. When the Samaritans rejected Jesus, James and John wanted to call down fire, Jesus turned and rebuked them (cf. Luke 9:54). His power, he does not use arbitrary. God demonstrates his power while respecting human freedom and the laws he himself has set in nature. And yet we struggle to understand the ways of God. This struggle is expressed by the psalmist who seem to be frustrated that God’s power of which people testify to or of which he himself has seen in the past does not seem to be present in his current circumstances:

And I said, ‘This is what wounds me, the right hand of the Most High has lost its strength.’ I conclude: “My sorrow is this, the right hand of the Most High has left us.” Remembering Yahweh’s great deeds, remembering your wonders in the past, I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, your wonders of old I will remember. I reflect on all that you did, I ponder all your great deeds. I will recite all your works; your exploits I will tell. God, your ways are holy! What god is as great as our God? Your way, O God, is holy; what god is as great as our God? You are the God who does marvellous deeds, brought nations to acknowledge your power… (Psalm 77: 10-14).

When we think critically of the passion of Jesus, his fear in the garden, his vulnerability in the hands of his enemies and the people who geared at him wondering: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One” (Luke 23:35). There is something there to learn about God and his power amid suffering. If God did not escape suffering when he submitted himself to human nature, then a lesson of power and suffering is being taught. If God’s power is his love, then we must also acknowledge that Love makes one vulnerable. We dare say that because of the love God has for us, he has made himself vulnerable. Anyone who has fallen in love, can relate.

That the world is full of suffering only tells us one thing for certain: the world is not perfect but moving towards perfection. And just as every growth involves crisis moments and inner conflicts, the movement of the world towards it’s perfection in God would necessarily witness it’s conflicts and crisis. And yet we must keep focus on the big picture, even when things are not clear: we are moving towards perfection (God). The pangs of birth is necessary for the springing up of new life.

Come to think of it, when Jesus wanted to teach about the greatest, he set before us a child and a servant as models. In the mind of the world, these two are not symbols of power but vulnerability and weakness. In this we see why God is great and powerful. We are left to wonder: which is which?
The Almighty who can remove every pain or the Almighty who cries? The Almighty who is a superhero or the Almighty who is like a child? The Almighty who is impassible or the Almighty who suffers? Is it the power he wilds that makes him Almighty or the way he uses his power? We only come to know his power by the way he uses it and by the way he has revealed himself. It is important we do not pick and chose what has been revealed but strive to enter the mysteries of all and I mean all that has been revealed.


Source: Radio Angelus



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