Nothing can squash out the advancement of God's kingdom on the earth. No political power, social pressure, or even an unfaithful priest can hinder God's announcement of the forgiveness of sins and the nearness of the kingdom of God. In The Power and the Glory Graham Greene wrestles with the reality that there are two opposing kingdoms in the world. The kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.
In the book the kingdom of man seems to be advancing by wiping out churches from the southern regions of Mexico with rise of the Red Shirts. Priests are systematically rundown and executed during the great purging, one priest aligns with the new political power by marrying a local woman to save his life, but one priest remains on the run. This unnamed priest becomes Greene's main character.
Having no way of escape from the Red Shirts the priest must come to terms with a way forward. He has little to no options left but to surrender or continue to move from village to village putting the flock of God at great risk. What we come to learn is that the priest is running from more than a political power seeking to wipe him out, but he's running from the ever-present reality that one must come to terms with God. Where can a man go in order to confess his sins and find absolution? Being the only priest makes it hard for one to make a full and honest confession and find absolution before surrendering to one's death, but making his confession could be one that demands a greater form of surrender than submission to a firing squad. Plagued by his own guilt and shame the priest finds himself in a difficult scenario. He is too weak of man to play the hero, too honest about himself to be considered a martyr in the hearts of the people, and has a history that more than disqualifies him from being a priest. Where can a man go?
The Power and the Glory unfolds the beauty of self-preservation overcome by compassion, selfishness squashed by service, and self ultimately absorbed when we surrender to sacrificial love.
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