In a week when the Ebola virus continues to spread, the bird flu virus has been reported to have caused human deaths in two countries and ISIS continues to spread terror, it is very hard to imagine that we are in a world in which Jesus reigns with authority. On the surface of things, it would seem that the reality of our world contradicts the message of our gospel lesson for today. In the final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, the risen Christ is giving his final instructions to his disciples. He adds his assurance: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” and “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Mt. 28:18, 20) There’s the puzzle! A world in which all authority belongs to Jesus Christ, who stood for peace, compassion, justice and love should show a whole lot more evidence of peace, compassion and love shouldn’t it? The danger in this thinking is that we become overwhelmed by the grim news of the world and stop seeing Jesus’ authority at work. Anxiety and despair may follow, leading to withdrawal from community.
The good news is that every time we open ourselves to give or receive compassion, love or justice ourselves, there is Jesus’ authority at work. It is in the small acts by which we share kindness and love with our fellow human beings that we experience the true presence of God. I think it stands to reason that the only way we can experience the presence of the God of love and peace is if we are practicing love and peace in our lives. And as we do our eyes are opened to the actions of God all around us.