BY MOLLEEN DUPREE-DOMINGUEZ | March 20, 2019
Today’s Readings

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’
She answered him,
‘Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.'” [Matthew 20:20-21]

The mother in today’s Gospel is not alone; many of Jesus’ contemporaries presumed his talk of “kingdom” would follow the patterns of the kingdoms of the day—supreme ruler, loyal subject, brutal slaughter of dissenters. It’s no wonder she wanted security and position for her sons.

We still cling fiercely to security and position centuries later, even having had time to ponder the meaning of Christ’s kingdom.

It raises a question for me: what do I look at every day and presume I understand—keeping me oblivious to its true meaning?

When it comes to the power dynamic of which Jesus speaks, this too is something we might believe we understand, but toward which we humans are still working. When I teach my students about justice, we talk about fostering a balance of power, grounded in kinship. Jesus does not use his supreme power as a weapon. Nor does he deny it. He exercises a balance of power—to give blessing, perform miracles, correct injustice—while reclining at table with a variety of folks, reveling in the kinship of being a human being.

If we are educated, housed, clothed, healthy U.S. citizens, we hold a tremendous amount of power on the planet, not to mention the privileges that may be ours, bidden or unbidden, because of our gender identity, sexual orientation, ability status, or perceived race.

Where is God showing us how to exercise our power? Where does God wish us to show restraint…perhaps even to decline privileges or powers that others may wish to place upon us?

5 replies
  1. Avatar
    Jan says:

    I question if there can be any balance of power and true kinship as we continue to close women out of the church and so many other places.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Kristin Shewfelt says:

    I truly believe I am in the midst of discernment, and I don’t believe it is discovering how to use power in any way, but rather how to use any gifts with which I have been blessed for the better of this world. I think in terms of sharing, of moving beyond my comfort zone, of entering spaces where I contribute and learn at the same time. The world power is a very strong one. I think I understand what you are getting at, but I am not quite there yet. If anything, I think I would like to use any power I could have to move towards more gender parity in the church, where women are on equal status with men. I would like to use my gifts to teach young women to empower themselves and seek paths that allow them to thrive towards fulfillment, and part of that fulfillment is economic independence.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Aurora Camnacho de Schmidt says:

    Yes, but we seldom contest in our own minds the notion of privilege. Privilege is not only an advantage, however true thay may be. It is also a form of blindness, a permission we the privileged can give ourselves not to see beyond. Unless our eyes and ears are open to see and hear the rest of the world, the unearned advantage known as privilege can easily seduce us into living in a house without windows.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Tom + Mary Frances says:

    Thanks, Molleen for a very thought provoking post. I (MF) ‘hit pause’ after the very first question on how our perceptions — our background, how ‘we always did it’ can hinder our ability to open our eyes and see a much broader picture. We write for TheCouplesPost.org a marriage blog and can see using this concept focused on expectations for marriage for newly married couples. I heard a couple use the term “Power Couple” the other day and while I know they meant very positive, good from that perception, your reflection made me wander to the negative aspect of power in the way we interact as husband and wife, in parenting our children — both young and adult, and in the way we take our “little church” out into the much greater community of God’s People. ‘Being’ in relationship can accomplish so much more than power. Relationship is powerful in a gentle, welcoming, way. The image of power in ‘reclining at table, reveling in kinship with a variety of folk’ is forever imbedded on my brain. Thank you!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *