Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Weakness is the apostle’s strength

Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times  I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[of God] is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2Cor 12,7-10

Over the centuries, many exegetes have tried to guess with what kind of thorn Satan tormented Paul during his whole apostolic life. Surely it must be something that prevented him from doing the fullness of his mission, but since Paul did not want to say clearly what it was, we respect his privacy and will not make any assumptions. It is better to explore more deeply, on the contrary, the answer the Lord gave Paul three times when Paul asked him to take away that thorn: “My grace is sufficient for you, the power [of God] is made perfect in weakness”. Twenty years ago, when I was active in the Charismatic Renewal, I was invited to bring my contribution to a day of spiritual retreat. I participated in the prayers of the assembly, taught a lesson on the charismas that the Lord gives to the workers in his vineyard at will, and concluded with a community prayer of healing. I was eventually approached by a priest who asked me to have a talk in private. When we were face to face, in a small room, he asked me to pray over him, so that the Lord delivered him from certain rather recurrent temptations, without telling me what kind they were. During the prayer, I realized that they were homosexual temptations and that person had received a powerful charisma of proclaiming the Gospel. We opened the Bible on this page and read: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power [of God] is made perfect in weakness”. We reflected together on this verse, and finally I told him: “See, despite being a layman, I also have received the gift of proclaiming the Gospel from God, but when the Lord called me to this service I was stuttering, but this has never been a problem for me because the Lord healed me almost immediately”. We can not expect to be without limits, but we must find in ourselves the strength of the beetle. Some Americans, after a careful study, have stated that a bug with that weight, that shape and wings that small could not fly. The beetle, however, does not know it and flies anyway.

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