Weakness is a Strength to the Lord

pharisee-publican

A reflection on God’s love for the poor and the weak for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of my favorite Scripture verses for meditation comes from 1 Cor 1:18: “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  I reflect upon this because like many of us, I have many good and well-meaning people in my life who have given up or rejected the Gospel because they believe it to be a fool’s game to believe.  “Catholics who hang onto all of this are foolish because they let somebody/something rule their life and lack freedom and ability to think for themselves”.  Does that sound remotely familiar?  Surely we all have those who think we are weak for believing.  Weak for allowing the Gospel to “rule our lives”.  There was a time when these kinds of comments irked me greatly.

Truthfully now, I guess I see where some of the people who make these comments are coming from because if they don’t know or have somehow blocked or been blocked by knowing the One True God through His Son Jesus Christ, I can see how this might all seem ridiculous to them.  But they don’t know what I [we] know, even if I [we] want them to. When we constantly turn to the Lord in prayer when we struggle, in our weakness, with our lacking and wanting – it must seem a fool’s game to many.  Of course we know, and we seek to know in greater and greater ways that the Lord does indeed answer prayers and He is never far away.

The verse from 1st Corinthians is important to me in my moments of weakness to realize that non-believers are right!  We might seem like fools, but brothers and sisters, we are God’s fools.  Just like His Son and Our Lord!  We are weak, we are fools and we need a “crutch” to help us and the Lord is that crutch!  The irony is that we ought not be insulted by what is meant as an insult, we ought to be proud that we have received every grace and heavenly blessing to be close to Jesus Christ in our weakness as He was close to us in His weakness – that is, our shared humanity.

And this is who I seek to be priests of Jesus Christ, men and women with religious vocations.  Weak people.  Strong in Christ, growing stronger in faith and trust but with weaknesses and failings.  Why?  Because in our weakness, we know we need Jesus.  In our strength we often don’t struggle nearly enough to be close to Christ, because we get it in our heads that we deserve things…that we can do anything on our own…that we’re the real deal…  It’s our weakness and not our strength that humbles us, or at least affords us humility.  It’s an even greater humility we find when we make our way to receive the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation.  And we receive Mercy, Complete Mercy and the embrace of God but it’s so subtle that many deny it or refuse it.  Only the weak who know that they are empty want it.

And that brings us to today; the Gospel of the Pharisee & the Publican.  We know who’s weak in this parable.  We know who thinks he’s got it right.  We know who is esteemed in the Lord’s eyes, and we know that it was the Publican’s humility and weakness that brought him closer to God.  My friends, take some time today to think of your own weaknesses and what has weakened you.  Is it your health?  Your inability to seem to be able to get ahead?  To have what others have?  Is it in your struggle with sin?  Whatever makes you weak, take heart because the Lord sees all and knows all.  Keep close to Him in prayer and whatever humbles you, we must trust is in the Lord’s Divine Plan.

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