FOR QUITE a while, the word, “empowerment,” became a buzzword in many circles in our society. Among the Church people, for example, they talk about empowerment of the laity, of the youth, of the women, etc. Some socially minded people also talk about empowerment of the poor, the indigenous people and the like.
It’s indeed good and truly welcome that we have such concern. Everyone of us should be properly empowered to fulfill the goal meant for us, and not just our own subjective goals. That’s the ideal that we should try to translate into reality.
We just have to know where that true empowerment can really come from. That’s because nowadays, with the plethora of ideologies sprouting all over, there is a lot of confusion and even outright error being propagated in this regard.
True empowerment can only come from God in Christ through the Holy Spirit who now inspires the Church Christ founded on the pillars of the apostles and endowed with powers that assure her of her fidelity till the end of time despite men’s weaknesses, mistakes and sins. Remember Christ saying, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16, 18)
In saying this, we are not suggesting, of course, that this claim be simply rammed down our throat. We should just look into history and see how the Church, despite the frailty of those governing it and the enormous challenges and crises it had to face and suffer, has managed to survive up to now. The Church indeed has the authority to convey Christ’s message and Christ himself to us.
That true empowerment can only come from God through Christ as can be gleaned from the following passages in the Bible:
* “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4, 13)
* “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Eph 6, 10)
* “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Eph 3, 16)
* “The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3, 19)
To be sure, this can only happen if we exert effort to identify ourselves with Christ who, for his part, identifies himself with us. In fact, Christ goes all the way by assuming all our sins and conquering them with his death and resurrection. And he offers forgiveness to us.
Our usual problem is that we do not do our part in this business of living our life as a shared life with God in Christ. We tend to declare complete independence from God and just rely on our own so-called powers. This is something we need to correct.
We should try our best to learn the word of God, have recourse to the sacraments which are the usual channels for his grace to come to us, wage a life-long ascetical struggle of developing virtues and avoiding temptations and sin, etc. The ultimate aim is that we become increasingly Christ-like because each one of us is supposed to be “another Christ.”
This is the real empowerment that we ought to have, one that is compatible with humility, patience, compassion. It’s not an empowerment that is triumphalistic in character. It is one whose main ingredient is the cross of Christ. Suffering and dying with Christ are essential in it.
It is an empowerment whose exercise of power is in the character of serving and not of lording it over, an empowerment that brings us to our eternal life in heaven, and not just some good life here on earth.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (firstname.lastname@example.org)/PN