Friday of Week 11 in Ordinary Time
2 Cor 11:18,21-30
If I am to boast, I let me boast of my own feebleness
In today’s readings, we are reminded that the Christian faith can often put us at odds with the expectations of the secular world.
In the first reading, St Paul relates the many physical torments that he had to undergo, only to end this painful litany with the statement that ‘If I am to boast, then let me boast of my own feebleness”. In the Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us not to store our treasures on earth but to store up our spiritual treasures in heaven.
To forgo both riches and physical comfort for the sake of our spiritual communion with God requires not strength, but weakness, and vulnerability in the presence of God. The popular psychologist Brene Brown alludes to this in her work, when she calls us to practice vulnerability in our lives and relationships with others.
St Paul also reminds us in 2 Cor 9 -11 that “For when I am weak, then I am strong”. While the secular world perceives of strength in terms of hardened hearts and toughened muscles, we are taught instead that true strength lies in our ability to express our weakness and vulnerability to God and our loved ones.
At the heart of this vulnerability is humility. The humility to accept help when it is needed, to accept our own limitations when they manifest, and to love ourselves despite all our sins and shortcomings. If God could love a man like me, who am I to do otherwise? Such vulnerability is best expressed in the serenity prayer, which is often attributed to the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Perhaps this ‘weakness’ is not so weak after all. It requires courage, strength of character, and deep humility. It requires us to let go of our emotional crutches, whether these are addictions, tantrums, or avoidance, and to humbly ask God for His help. And above all, it requires us to accept that our true strength resides in Him.
And in doing so, we can find freedom from having to always fight and struggle through our own efforts. We can simply leave it to Him to fight our battles with, and for, us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)
Prayer: Lord, we entrust all our troubles and struggles to You. Above all, we entrust our broken hearts to You, that You may safeguard these hearts that beat only for You.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for His constant love and assurance, so that we can, in confidence, dare to love greatly and fall humbly.