Christianity is for the weak.
A Reflection for Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
“(I am talking like an insane person)”
2 Cor 11:23
I laughed out loud when I was reading over today’s first reading. I don’t know how many parentheticals are found in the Bible, but “(I am talking like an insane person)” is a pretty good one. In my own writing style, I like using parentheses (even if an editor will later remove them). For me, they’re a chance to be more honest (the goal of good writing): It’s a glimpse into the side conversations going on in my thoughts while I’m trying to formulate them.
And Paul is one of the most brutally honest figures in history. What sometimes comes across as brazen zealousness is actually (I think) a confidence that comes with a radical comfort with knowing who you are, and who God is. Who else could utter one of St. Paul’s most famous aphorisms, also in today’s first reading: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
That God loves us in our weakness (and the greater the weakness, the greater the love) is in fact good news.
Boasting about your weakness? Saying such a thing might make you think you’re talking like an insane person. We live in a culture today that prizes self-help, self-improvement and self-actualization. Weaknesses, if they are known, are meant to be improved upon or life-hacked away.
When America published the first interview with Pope Francis in 2013, he gave a peculiar (insane?) answer to the very first question: Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”
He goes on, “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” Loved sinners. This is who we are. That is what Paul and Francis both understand: that our weakness is the very place where God loves us the most. And this is perhaps the most frustrating part, that we do not get to choose or control the places where God loves us.
But that God loves us in our weakness (and the greater the weakness, the greater the love) is in fact good news. Good news worth boasting over (even if it makes you sound insane).