Sunday, October 15, on the 2nd Epistle to Corinthians 11::31-12:9
We are weak. Maybe individually some of us are strong physically or mentally, but collectively, as human beings we are weak.
We are weak compared to the machinery we have built, we are weak in the face of nature, we are helpless against a storm or fire or any other natural disaster.
We look ridiculous while boasting about our non-existent strengths. But when a strong man boasts of his power, or rich man boasts of his wealth, or a smart man boasts of being a genius, this bragging, even if justified, is the result of something we all face – the inevitable death. Even when we are strong and confident, even then we are weak because our strength and confidence can’t prevent death.
We are weak because we are full of passions and temptations. These also lead to death, but expectantly, if we give in to our temptations, we are destroying ourselves, no matter how much pleasure we get in the process.
St Paul talks today about his own temptations and weaknesses. He doesn’t name them, but says that he has a thorn in his flesh, something that constantly bothers him, something that makes him realize that he is, like us, weak.
Nobody is immune from temptations. No one who has ever lived avoided hot passions. Even Christ was tempted, but He did not give in to them. Instead, He took all of our temptations and weaknesses to the Cross.
Whether we realize it or not, whether we like it or not, but all of us have some serious passions and temptations. And I do not mean a passion to draw or a passion to photography. In a Christian sense, passion is a nasty desire, a lust. And we all have them because we are weak.
Sometimes we fight our passions, sometimes we give in to them. But the problem is, fighting or giving in means engaging, when the goal is to avoid.
Maybe we are like St Paul, who asked God three times to be healed from the thorn in his flesh, and we plead and ask, but our lusts remain. Through Paul God answers why our temptations persist, he says – God’s strength, His power, is made perfect in weakness.
How can power be made perfect in weakness? How can anything come out of weakness? Our culture teaches us that only the strong survive. We should be ashamed of being weak, always look to avoid it like a disease. Weak is undesirable, weak is shameful. That’s why we are scared to admit the obvious – we are weak.
Yet in being weak we share something with Christ. Did He come down with His heavenly army and demolished all of His enemies? Did He build an army of His disciples and destroyed Roman army? What was His weapon? What was His sign of power?
Christ defeated His enemy, He conquered death by going on the Cross – the ultimate sign of weakness. He showed His power by dying. Christ showed us who God truly is – God is not Someone who gives us moral teachings, but Someone who dies for us. True God is the One who through death and resurrection brings us to salvation.
We are weak…because we die. And God’s power is made perfect in death. Our weaknesses, our passions and temptations are constant reminders that we live by drawing on the Lord for strength and by relying on His endless grace.
Christ’s power rests on us when the weaknesses and persecutions that torment us make us rely completely upon Him. God’s grace is sufficient for us. We have nothing to boast about because we are weak. And our weakness is a reminder of humility.
God does not desire a boastful heart, but a humble heart. A heart that is open to receive His grace and give back to Him our weaknesses. A heart that prays to God, “Make Your power, O God, perfect in my weaknesses.”