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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

When I am Weak, I am Strong

Saturday, June 24, 2023, 11th Week of Ordinary Time (A1)

by Fr. David M. Knight

Today is the NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. Solemnity (Readings no. 587 (Is 49: 1-6; Ps 139: 1-3, 13-14, 14-15; Acts 13: 22-26; Lk 1: 57-66, 80). However, this reflection is based upon the usual readings for the 11th Saturday in Ordinary Time (2Corinthians 12: 1-10, PS 34, Matthew 6: 24-34).

The Responsorial (Psalm 34) urges us: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” The readings show us how to identify and recognize God’s special goodness to us. In 2Corinthians 12: 1-10 Paul defends his ministry by referring to the “exceptional character of the revelations” he received from God; being “caught up to the third heaven — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows” — and hearing things it is beyond the power of human speech to utter. But he says it is foolish to boast of this; that he only mentions it because “you forced me to it.” He did it to convince the Corinthians, who “should have been the ones commending me,” that he is “not at all inferior to these super-apostles” who are leading them astray (12:11). For Paul, the true validation of his ministry is found, not in the extraordinary “visions and revelations” he received, but in the “weaknesses” he experienced: “insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ.” He says he will “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me… for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” The true effectiveness of Christian ministry is based, not on the gifts and talents we have received, but on the surrender to Christ that lets Jesus work with us, in us and through us as he desires. And nothing helps us surrender more than the awareness of how weak and powerless we are in ourselves. When we experience weakness and failure, Paul says, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord! In Matthew 6: 24-34 Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters,” and he gives as an example, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” This is an echo of the Great Commandment from the Shema, the Jewish profession of faith: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” 1 Our “master” is the one we serve, usually for reward. If we look to nothing on this earth for our security or fulfillment we have some assurance we are “seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This accredits our ministry. So does perseverance in ministry without the reward of visible success. We know we are trusting in God when we obviously have nothing else to trust in. Then we can “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” 2 We surrender ourselves to this in the Eucharistic Prayer when we say with Jesus and to every person on earth, as well as to God, “This is my body, given up for you.” At Baptism we gave our bodies to Christ to be his body. We did this by dying in Christ and rising with him — which is what we celebrate at Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer we recall and renew this total surrender of ourselves to him. Initiative: Be a priest. Welcome weakness. Turn it into trust in God. 1 Deuteronomy 6: 4-5; Matthew 22:37. 2 See Matthew 10: 8-10 and Paul’s example in 2Thessalonians 3:8.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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