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Pastor's Column

Saint Paul Boasts of His Weaknesses

Pastor's Column

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 7, 2024

"Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me”, but he said to me,

 "My power is made perfect in weakness."  

          Very few of us wish to be considered "weak," nor do most of us pray for “weakness” in our lives, yet this is exactly what St. Paul does in our second reading this Sunday (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). First we learn that Paul has received some kind of terrible affliction that he feels deeply interferes with his ministry. It is so difficult that Paul asks that it be taken away no less than three times, and each time the Lord specifically turns him down. Paul struggles with this answer, as most of us would, but finally comes to realize that the difficulty he is facing and the lack of resources he is experiencing are in fact among his greatest assets. How can this possibly be?

          One of the great spiritual principles of our Christian lives is that the Lord sometimes allows us to experience weakness so that it will be his power that is being manifest in our lives and not our own. Those times when we feel we have all the resources to meet our obligations can lead us to act as if we don't need God, but when our poverty becomes apparent due to an illness, a reversal, a situation beyond our abilities, a frightening reality, these are the times when we often will call on God. Our "weakness" becomes an opportunity for the Lord to show forth his power in us if we permit him to do so. 

Didier B (Sam67fr), CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favorite gothic structures is called "La Sainte Chappelle,” a beautiful chapel near Notre Dame in Paris that was originally built to house the crown of thorns. It gives the impression of being composed almost entirely of floor to ceiling stained glass, with very little stonework supporting it. This building represents the pinnacle of that French gothic architectural style that emphasizes light rather than just sheer height. The walls supporting the building are essential, but it is the openings, the “weakness” of the structure if you will, where the glass will be placed that give the chapel it’s exquisite beauty. 

In the same way a Christian in the world must have “openings” (which we perceive as weaknesses) in the structure so that the light of Christ can come through. In a sense, the more openings for light we have, the more the Spirit can accomplish within us, but these openings are not weaknesses! Perhaps we would like to be the equivalent of a strong all granite structure; but without windows, God's light will be obscured, less visible within us.  These “weaknesses” are actually openings that can allow the Lord to shine forth, and glorify him instead of just ourselves.

Father Gary ~


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