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  • Writer's pictureFr. Austin

Become Weak, and Shine

This past week, I listened to a talk from a Catholic woman, a mother of eight, who spoke about becoming a child of God and understanding what that meant. She spoke about becoming “little,” like St. Therese of Lisieux would say. One of her stories told of a prayer experience that she had after seeing a post on Facebook that said, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but momma, you are enough.” For her, that triggered deeper reflection. Finally, in prayer, the woman said that she received an inspiration from God in response to that.  The Spirit said, “You are not enough.

“But I am.”

This weekend, our readings give us a picture of our weak humanity and times when we are aware that, maybe, we are not enough. In the First Reading, Ezekiel is called “son of man”by God – a term that is meant to indicate his limitations, his mortality. Yet, God sends this son of man on an important mission to Israel to announce His Word, even when He knows that they will be stubborn in hearing it. How could he be successful?

St. Paul tells us about “a thorn in the flesh” that he experiences – which could have been a physical suffering or some strong temptation – some expression of his own human weakness. However, God calls this weak and afflicted man and Christ tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you”; and Paul perseveres. But he couldn’t succeed through his own efforts.

Jesus Himself goes to His hometown – to His own people – proclaiming the Good News, and He is rejected by them. Even God-made-flesh ran into difficulty. But He continues His mission.

Each one of these – Ezekiel, Paul, Jesus – were fully human. They knew their weaknesses and limitations. However, they also knew where their strength was. They knew that they were not enough, but God was. They each went on their missions, they carried out their ministries, knowing that it was God Whose strength ultimately accomplished anything that they did.

St. Paul really sums it up for us. We are all aware of our human weaknesses. These may be physical limitations; they may be difficult temptations or sins that we struggle with; they may be scandals that shake our government or our Church. Whatever they are, as we try to life a “good life,” we may feel frustrated by these weaknesses. Like Paul, we might beg the Lord that they might leave us. We may think that things would be better if we were somehow different than we are. But God tells us, as He tells St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you. For power is made perfect in weakness.”

God knows our weakness, our brokenness, our failures, our sins. God knows that we are not enough on our own. And yet, He constantly calls us back to Him so that He may work through us. Why?

Because He knows that we are worth it!

God loves us as His own children and sends Jesus to live, die, and rise again for us. We are worth it! God keeps on working through us, and His power shines through our weakness being shown perfect – and we are made more perfect too. This would not be possible if we had these struggles taken away.  Yes, we would be comfortable, but would we be holy?

That power is made perfect when we can manage a smile for someone even when we are suffering. It is made perfect when we can laugh at ourselves when we are humiliated for being too proud. It is made perfect when we can ask for forgiveness when we have wronged God and our neighbor, or when we can forgive others when we are hurt. These are the moments when God’s strength shines through our weakness.

During this summer, in our liturgies, we have heard of some difficulties that Jesus had in His own ministry. We heard of a storm that frightened the Apostles – that they asked Jesus to remove. Last week, we heard the synagogue official’s friends tell him to stop bothering Jesus for healing and to give up. We hear today of Paul’s prayer that this “thorn” be taken away. But today, we hear the response to all those struggles, all those doubts.  It is the Risen Lord who speaks to Paul, and He tells him what He tells us: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

So where does this strength come from for us? From where do we draw it? Right here, in God’s Church, where He stands ready to forgive us, to heal us, to feed us, to unite us. These are the actions of the Sacraments and they are sources of that grace that is all we need. God does this because we are worth it; we are worth His time and effort, and that is all that matters. In this Eucharist we find the nourishment that strengthens us to do the great works of God and let His power shine through – even through us weak sons of men.

God’s power is everywhere, shining through our weakness. Maybe we are not enough. But what a joy to know that God is. Become small; become weak; and God’s power will be seen perfectly in you.

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