Benedictine University and’s Mark Kurowski reflects on what “Almighty” means.  Is it only to be strong enough to judge and destroy us?  He finds this power way too limiting and demeaning on the character of God.  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the Feast of Christ the King. Please read Revelation 1:4-8. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

{mp3}B 2012 Christ the King{/mp3}

     What exactly does “Almighty” mean?  I have heard of “strong and mighty”.  I have heard of being “high and mighty.”  But has anyone ever sat down and defined for us what it means to be “Almighty”?
Here in this passage from Revelation today, St. John writes the words of Jesus as he says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the One who is and was and is to come, the ‘Almighty.’”  Of course, “Alpha and Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  So, Jesus is telling us that he was in the beginning and will be there at end.  He is the first word who will have the last word.
Jesus says that he is “the One who was and is and is to come.”  That simply means that the one who is talking to us through the Scriptures is the God of the past and of the present and will be in the future.  That can means he is either our support and comfort, or THE God who we can’t avoid.
     But what does this “Almighty” mean?  Maybe an illustration is in order.
You all know him by another name, but for me, his name was Jerry Riss.  Jerry was the biggest kid in the sixth grade.  He was about a foot and a half taller than every other kid.  He weighed more in the sixth grade than I will when I graduate to to my next size of pants (which I hope is none too soon).  Everyone on the playground did whatever they did with an eye on Jerry Riss.  He was more powerful than us, and we didn’t necessarily fear him, but we had a very healthy respect for what we knew he could do if we got on his bad side.
Some might hesitate to compare God to the playground bully, but the aspect that I want us to grasp is that Jesus is telling us today through the Book of Revelation, that He is the one around whom all things negotiate.  We ought to have a healthy respect for what he is capable of doing.   So, when Jesus tells us that he is the Alpha and Omega, the One who was and is and is to come, the Almighty.  It means that he is THE King, the one around whom everyone should negotiate.  He is the One around whom we ought to think of how we spend our time and money.
We see later in Revelation, that Jesus tells us that he alone is the one who holds the keys to hell and death.  There ought to be a healthy respect for that.  Jesus is not an option or a compartment of our life that we can escape.  He is the Almighty!; the One who is, and was, and is to come.
In the very next passage in the Revelation to St. John, a stunning picture of Christ comes to bear.  There described for us is this Christ with pure white hair, a white robe down to his feet, a golden sash across his chest and eyes like fire.  He has a voice that crowds out any other noise.  He towers above St. John.  Take a moment to imagine that!  Imagine right now that the roof of your church was lifted off and you were transported to the feet of the Christ St. John sees!  Now, that is Almighty!
St. John says that the image is so powerful and it caused him to faint.  When was the last time you had a vision of Jesus that made you faint from its majesty and power?  
My friend, Christ is THE King.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Almighty!
I remember the greatest thing about the “almighty” Jerry Riss, though, was something other than his might.  The greatest thing about Jerry Riss is when we found out that he was a caring kid who loved animals.  He was a gentle giant who could wreak havoc, but didn’t.  When I was asked by my teacher to help Jerry understand something that we were studying, he received my help with thankfulness and humility.  When we look at the scriptures, whenever the word “Almighty” is used to describe God, it carries with it a similar connotation.
The term “Almighty” not only carries with it the notion of strength, it also carries with it the notion of the Almighty One bringing restoration.
In 2 Cor. 6.18, St. Paul says at the end of the passage concerning being “mismatched with unbelievers” that we need to be careful, not because God will use his Almighty nature to kill us, but because “we are temples of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”…
In Leviticus 26.12 it says, “And I will walk among you, and will be your God and you shall be my people.” This section which uses in it the notion of God as “Almighty” calls God’s people to walk in his ways so that he can be “our God and we shall be his people.”
Jeremiah 31.33, is a section that follows chapter 31 which recounts the return of the Israelites after being taken into exile in Babylon.  It is a restoration passage about this Almighty God.  It says, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
The Prophet Ezekiel in 37.26, after the Valley of Dry Bones passage, proclaims from the Almighty a time of peace between the Almighty and his people.  It says, “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore.  My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.”
The prophet Zechariah, in 8.8 says, “and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem.  They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”  Zechariah is the prophet during the time of captivity in Babylon under King Darius, who inherited them.  Zechariah then proclaims this time of restoration.
     All of this “Almighty” language has to do with the proclamation of God’s ability to do anything, his ability to grant deliverance and his desire to give restoration.  So, when we proclaim that Jesus is the “Almighty” we are proclaiming more than just the power he has to squish us on the window sill like a bug.  We are proclaiming the power to deliver us.  That is the whole focus of the Apocalypse of St. John: The Father delivers us through the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who inspires us to continue in the faith through the Holy Spirit, even in times of great persecution.
If you think about it, how do we think we will be delivered?  Will we be delivered by a Savior who is changed by us into what we want, or by a Savior who is strong enough to claim our life and work a change in us for him?  Before we shutter at the thought of a Savior who would wield such power, doesn’t it make sense for us to have a Savior who is powerful enough to accomplish what he says?
Today, I proclaim to you that even though we don’t think about it as much as we should, our salvation is in the hands of Jesus Christ, THE King of kings, THE Lord of lords.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who was and is and is to come.  He is powerful enough to destroy us, but chooses to be powerful enough to save us from our sins and deliver us into the eternal salvation that is awaiting us.
     So, let us hold fast and recommit ourselves to being devoted to him.  Let us turn all of our energies toward praising him and supporting his ministry in this world.  Let us declare through our actions that we know and trust that he is the Almighty, the Holy One of God.  Amen?  Amen.
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