There is much for us to contemplate in today’s scripture. Ezekiel tells the rebellious people that whether they listen or not or respond or resist, they should know that a prophet has been in their midst. St. Paul has that profound concept: He boasts of his weaknesses; he proclaims that when we are weak, we can be strong in the Lord Jesus. We see as Jesus returns to his home town of Nazareth, he finds that a prophet is not recognised or welcome among his own: He is amazed at their lack of faith! As a result, he could work no miracle there only cure a few people.
The message is clear: being a follower of Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel is not an easy task. The prophets of old had a hard time: we see the great prophet Elijah sitting under a furze bush totally depressed because of his lack of success; Jeremiah is thrown into a well; John the Baptist is beheaded; St Paul talks of ‘the thorn in the flesh’ making life difficult for him and Jesus himself is taken and crucified as a common thief. But the message in all of their lives is that God is working through them all, in spite of the seeming human failure.
We often hear the saying: ‘nothing succeeds like successes’. But today’s readings turn all that on its head: at times ‘nothing succeeds like failure!’ God does not begrudge our successes. But he doesn’t want us to get carried away by them. Success could lead us to think that we’ve managed everything by ourselves. Success can blind us to the fact that we depend utterly on the Lord and other people. This is why weakness and failure are sometimes surer roads to God if we can accept them and keep trying our best.
St Paul speaks of the ‘thorn in the flesh’ to prevent him from getting too proud because of his successes in his missionary work. He has prayed earnestly to be rid of his ‘thorn’ – but the Lord’s answer was: “My grace is enough for you; my power is at its best in weakness”. This concept needs a lot of reflection before we can come to terms with it. See how Paul is of a mind to ‘boast of his weaknesses’, because he knows that the power of God is able to take over. We can be full of the power of God – not our own power. I often use the phrase: “God can draw straight with crooked lines!” When we do our best, rely on God’s graciousness, we can do wonderful things in his name. Remember the words of Paul: “it is when I am weak that I am strong”. That’s all for now. Have a good week. Fr Joe
“Disturb us, O Lord,
when we are too well pleased with ourselves;
when our dreams have come true
because we dreamed too little;
when we have arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Stir us, O Lord,
to dare more boldly, to venture more seas,
where storms shall show your mastery,
where losing sight of land we shall find the stars.
In the name of him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes and invited the brave to follow him. Amen.