Perhaps it is the case that there are ultimately only two sources of authority:
1. One is rooted in how much pain and violence one is willing and able to inflict. It is the shimmering god-awful "authority" of the sacred executioner, the mafia don, the gang leader, the terrorist, the Führer.
2. The other is the authority that corresponds to the degree of pain and violence one is willing to endure for the sake of another, for God and God's children.
Because those who endure pain and hardship and violence have Christ as a co-sufferer, their authority will always outshine and ultimately outlast the authority that accrues to those who lord it over those in thrall to them.
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39The victory over evil has already been accomplished, ours is just the privilege of living in light of the victory.
Happy Sunday all readers of Gil's blog. Sunday is the day we proclaim Christ's victory over death and sin--and most importantly for us, our union with it--by our presence at his eucharist, and by our participation in it. Victory and eucharist live in us hand in hand. About authority: there is also God's authority which is something beyond the two noted by Gil. His authority and power don't inflict pain and violence, though he is free to do so; he does seem to endure our pain and violence, but he certainly didn't, and doesn't, have to. His authority is and that's it. He rules all things, the universe, and the nations in their emphemeral and tangential contact with history. I would expand the first category of authority named by Gil to include the SOP of those nations; when you come down to it, and we always will come down to it, all nations, not just the thugs he lists, have what authority they have in virtue of their ultimate willingness to use violence, if needed against their own people. Some thugs make that fact more obvious; we, thankfully, live in a more subltle variation of the theme. Without an army, no government really has authority; they don't run on good will alone, because we would tear ourselves to pieces if they tried. So, the second category named by Gil is authority, but the only ones who would listen and obey it are almost always those whose good will can be counted on and who have themselves suffered and been freed from consequent hurt, anger, and resentment.
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