Friday, July 31, 2020

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

How does one rejoice in one’s weaknesses? WHY should we rejoice in our weaknesses? Aren’t we supposed to rejoice in our successes and accomplishments, when we are in positions that give us influence and power? St Paul seems to blatantly suggest the opposite in today’s reading from the Liturgy of the Hours: “I will do no boasting about myself unless it be about my weaknesses (in the plural!!) He says furthermore: “I am content with weakness, with distress, with mistreatment, with persecutions for the sake of Christ, for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”

These words from Second Corinthians go against everything we have been taught by our culture. We have been taught to be strong in our strengths and accomplishments. Weakness is to be frowned upon and eliminated at all costs. How does one get ahead unless one rises from weakness to strength? This attitude reflects an understanding of power as control of one's destiny in order to get ahead and live in absolute comfort and even luxury. It means the acquisition of possessions that give one a sense of worth and superiority.

The way of gospel living is to “descend” into humility rather than “ascend” into dominance. We are called to become the servant who serves, not the one who is served. We are called to become the last, taking our place with the lowest, and in the process, to “lose ourselves.” This is foolish talk, is it not?? So says St Paul, the Saint if the fool for Christ.

God allows our struggles and weaknesses to remain, so that: “MY GRACE IS ENOUGH FOR YOU, FOR IN WEAKNESS POWER REACHES PERFECTION.” What beautiful words that reflect the Wisdom of God, the Wisdom that became flesh and blood and divinity in Christ.

As Christ stood before Pilate, he was powerless, or so it seemed. He was helpless, or so it seemed. He was killed, put to death to end his foolish teaching, so it seemed. “You would have no power if it were not given you by my Father,” so says Jesus in his weakness, his apparent weakness. Jesus surrendered to the Father and the Grace of the Resurrection filled his tattered lifeless body, the soul reentering that entombed Body, forever uniting his humanity and divinity.

The weakness of Christ became the power of the resurrection, a power given to each one of us, but on one condition: we surrender to our weaknesses, all of them, in humility, so that the power of life and love may define our existence... forever... ultimately...

Fr. Frank