The Common Good

The Power to Dominate and the Power to Love

As Christians, our continual task is to explore and mediate on Jesus' teachings, as well as to emulate his deeds. Central to this two-fold task is comprehending the type of power Jesus wielded, namely the power to love. It often sounds repetitive to state that the poor carpenter loved those who were outcast by the dominant first-century Palestine social powers. But it is certainly worth repeating, for so radical was his power to love that it led to his dehumanizing demise.

Liberation theologian Leonardo Boff states that two powers were operative in the first-century oppressive Palestinian context: 1) exousia (Greek), which is the power to unite through patience and understanding of others; and 2) potestas (Latin), meaning the power to dominate through sheer force

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