Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Paul had a problem. And it was serious. We don’t know what the exact problem was, but it really got to him. He tells us in the second reading for today, that it was a thorn in the flesh, a weakness that beat him down. What was it? Was it his pride? Maybe the thorn in the flesh was a difficult personal weakness[1]. There is no use letting our minds run wild here. Suffice it to say that Paul was pretty embarrassed by his weakness and pleaded with God to take it away from him. He begged God to free him from this. Lord, take this away from me! He called. And God heard his call. And God answered. Do you know what God said? He said, no. He said, my grace is enough for you. My power is made perfect in weakness[2].

We are no different than Paul. We all have really embarrassing personal weaknesses. We all would like to scream out to God, “Lord, how can I be a committed Christian, even a leader in your kingdom, with this continual problem, continual temptation hitting me.” So we bargain, “Here’s the deal, Lord. You get rid of this, take this from me, and I’ll be able to do your workbetter.” And God answers our prayers. And says, no. My power is made perfect in your weakness.

My power is made perfect in your weakness. What does that mean? It means that God works his wonders through us, despite our weakness.

When Paul says that he boasts about his weakness, he is not saying that he is happy with his sinful inclinations. But he is happy, ecstatic, that the power of the Lord is working despite his weakness.

That is why we, committed Christians are also excited. God’s Power is so real for us. We can see Him working in us despite us.

Sometimes, in our pride, we get so overwhelmed by our weakness that we give up. We don’t say the words of faith that need to be said. We don’t pray like we should. We hesitate. Who am I to say something? May be we are putting our trust in ourselves. We lose confidence in that truth, we lose confidence in ourselves, and God’s work is not done.

Of course none of us are worthy. Of course I am not worthy to do what a priest does. I speak the Words of Scripture, I hold the Body and Blood of Christ in my hands, I say Mass, and I mediate the forgiving presence of Jesus in confession.

Of course, I am not worthy to say the things and do the things that continually edify me, lead me to Christ. None of us are worthy. Jesus makes us worthy. It is not about you. It is not about me. It is all about Jesus. We do not have the right to put His Work on hold. Rather, we have to spread his faith despite ourselves. His grace is enough for us to fight off temptation and to do His work. And if we fall into temptation, we have the sacrament of Confession always available.

Let us pray together that we never allow our pride to cause us to give up the fight for Jesus. Lord, Merciful One: heal our pains, help us to conquer temptation, and give us the humility to allow the battle to be yours. May your Power made perfect in our weakness conquer the world ■

[1] Some Roman Catholic writers think that it denotes suggestions to impiety. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Reformers interpret the expression as denoting temptation to unbelief. Others suppose the expression refers to "a pain in the ear or head," epileptic fits, or, in general, to some severe physical infirmity, which was a hindrance to the apostle in his work (comp. 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:30; Gal. 4:13, 14; 6:17). It has been suggested that his malady was a defect of sight caused the dazzling light which shone around him at his conversion. This would account for the statements in Gal. 4:14; 2 Cor. 10:10; also Acts 23:5, and for his generally making use of the help of an amanuensis (comp. Rom. 16:22, etc.).
[2] Sunday 5th July, 2009, 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy—Ps 122(123). 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Mark 6:1-6. [St Anthony Zaccaria].

Ilustration: Giovanni Baglione, St Sebastian Healed by an Angel (c. 1603), Oil on canvas, 95,9 x 75,5 cm, Private collection.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris