Sunday, January 29, 2017

Strongest in Our Broken Places

4 Sun OT Yr A (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul/Danville

Have you ever noticed how Jesus turns everything completely upside down?  When was the last time you felt “blessed” when you were drowning in sorrow and grief at mourning the loss of a family member or friend?  If you’ve ever felt persecuted because of your faith – being ridiculed because friends or loved ones don’t understand what it means to revere the Blessed Mother or accept the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – or if you’ve been belittled because our Catholic faith demands we conform to a moral code that is stricter than the world around us and based on truth rather than “what feels good” – if you’ve ever felt persecuted because of your faith, I’m betting you didn’t really feel blessed in that moment.  Do you feel blessed when you’re being insulted?  

Have you ever noticed how Jesus turns everything completely upside down?  Because in today’s Gospel, that’s exactly what He seems to do.  Blessed are they who mourn – blessed are they who are persecuted – blessed are you when they insult you.  Blessed?  Really?  Really?

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And what about St. Paul’s letter to the Christians at Corinth?  God seems to have bad taste.  He chooses the weak, the peasants, those who aren’t very wise.  What does He want to do with the proud and the strong?  You’d think they’d be His first-round draft picks.  But no – God wants to shame them. He chooses the foolish of the world to shame the wise, He chooses the weak to shame the strong.  He chooses the lowly, the despised, those who count for nothing to “reduce to nothing those who are something.”  

Good thing we don’t have try-outs for the Christian life like we have try-outs for the soccer or football or basketball – the way we have auditions for theater or band or orchestra.  In the eyes of the world, it is the best, the strongest, the most capable and successful who are most highly prized.  But in God’s eyes, it is the weak, the foolish, the broken, the lowly and overlooked – in God’s eyes it is those who count for nothing that are most prized.  And in our own lives even – it is our own weaknesses, brokenness, our places of failure and fault where God comes to us, calls us, uses us, works His miracles in us.  It is in our weaknesses that we are made strong.  And why?  Because in our strengths we have no need of God – in our accomplishments and achievements and self-sufficiencies we rely only on our own abilities.

There is little room for God in our own strength; in our own strength we can never be made supernaturally strong.  But in our weaknesses, God’s power turns everything upside down and we accomplish with Him the unimaginable!

St. Therese of Liseiux, in her physical frailty and youthful simplicity became supernaturally strong in wisdom and was named a doctor of the Church.  St. Thomas the Apostle became a testimony to the strength of faith in the brokenness of his doubt.  St. Peter’s overeager initiative.  St. Paul’s zealous persecution of the Church.  Timothy’s youth.  Time and time again, it is in our weakness that God shows His power and transforms the world in which we live starting right inside us – right inside our hearts.  The healthy have no need of a physician and the righteous have no need of a savior.

Have you ever noticed how Jesus turns everything completely upside down?  Praise God!  Jesus turns everything completely upside down!  Our excuses become our reasons.  Our wounds become our healings.  Our faults and failures become our virtues and our triumphs.  Through Christ we become strongest in our broken places!

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Friends, where are you weak – and how does that appear to be holding you back in living this Great Adventure of Christian discipleship?  Can you let it go today – instead of hiding it, being embarrassed about it, letting it keep you from stepping forward in faith and allowing it to discourage you – instead of letting your weaknesses hold you back can you come to Jesus here and give Him your weaknesses – present it to Him as a most precious gift – and watch Him transform it into your greatest source of strength because the strength and healing and power will come from Him and not from you?

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Have you ever noticed how Jesus turns everything completely upside down?  Praise God!  Jesus turns everything completely upside down! In Christ we are strongest in our broken places!


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