Word of Life – July 2018

 
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

In his second letter to the community in Corinth, St. Paul writes to people who were questioning the legitimacy of his apostolic activity. However, he does not defend himself by listing his own merits and achievements. On the contrary, he highlights the work that God has accomplished in him and through him.
St. Paul mentioned a mystical experience of a deep relationship with God (2 Cor 11:1-7), but immediately shared his suffering due to a “thorn” that tormented him. He did not explain exactly what it was, but we realize it caused great difficulty and could have limited his activity as an evangelizer. For this reason, he shared the fact that he had asked God to free him from that impediment. But the answer he received from God himself was mind-blowing:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

All of us continually experience our own physical, psychological and spiritual weaknesses, as well as those of others. We often see around us people who are suffering and can’t find the way ahead. We feel weak and unable to solve all these problems, or even face them. At most we limit ourselves to not hurting anyone.
St. Paul’s experience, on the other hand, opens up a new horizon. By recognizing and accepting our weakness, we can abandon ourselves fully into the hands of the Father, who loves us as we are and wants to help us on our journey. In fact, the letter goes on, saying: “For whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
In this regard, Chiara Lubich wrote: “We naturally react against such a statement, seeing in it a glaring contradiction or simply a paradox. Instead, it expresses one of the highest truths of the Christian faith.
“Jesus explained it to us with his life and above all with his death. When did he accomplish the task that the Father had entrusted to him? When did he redeem humanity? When did he conquer sin? It was when he died on the cross, after having cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46).
“Jesus was strongest just at his weakest moment. He could have given life to the new people of God just by preaching, doing a few more miracles or some extraordinary deed. Instead it was not so because the Church is the work of God, and it is in suffering, and only in suffering, that the works of God flourish.
“So our weakness and the experience of our fragility present unique opportunities to experience the strength of Christ who died and is risen.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

It is the paradox of the Gospel: the meek are promised they will inherit the earth (Mt 5:5). In the Magnificat, Mary exalts the power of the Lord, who expresses himself totally and definitively in our personal history and in human history, precisely in the setting of littleness and total trust in God’s action (see Lk 1:46-55).
Commenting on St. Paul’s experience, Chiara suggests that “the choice we Christians can make is the exact opposite of what people usually do. Here we are truly going against the flow. In the world, people’s ideals lie in success, power and prestige … On the contrary, St. Paul tells us we must boast of our weaknesses …
“Let’s trust in God. He will make good use of our weaknesses and nothingness. And when he is at work, we can be sure that he does things that are valuable, that bring about lasting good and meet the real needs of individuals and the community.”

Letizia Magri