Deacon Pat's Books

Deacon Pat's Books
Click on the book to visit the book site.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Parable of the Wicked Tenants



Matthew 21:33-46, Parable of the Wicked Tenants 

A homily adapted from one written by Father Michael Marsh


Jesus said to them “Listen to another parable.” He could have just said, “Get ready for another confrontation between the Pharisees and me.” Regardless of what you think about the Pharisees you’ve got to give them some credit today.

· They got it.
· They understood the parable.
· They heard Jesus.

“They realized he was talking about them.” Jesus held before them a truth they didn’t like and they wanted to put a stop to it. They wanted to arrest him. This is neither Jesus’ first nor his last confrontation with the Pharisees. Unlike most of us who tend to avoid those with whom we have conflict and confrontation, Jesus doesn’t. He just keeps on coming. At every turn he is offending, aggravating, and confronting the Pharisees.

· He eats with the wrong people.
· He won’t answer their questions.
· He taunts them by breaking the law and healing on the Sabbath.
· He calls them hypocrites and blind leaders.
· He escapes their traps.
· He leaves them speechless.
· He rattles off a string of “woes” against them.
· He even compares them to a disobedient son who will not work in the vineyard.

They just can’t catch a break with Jesus. He never lets up. So what is this really all about?

· Why can’t He just let go of them?
· And what does this have to do with us?

Is Jesus looking for a fight?

· I don’t think so.

Is his primary motivation to expose and condemn those who do not follow him?

· I don’t think so.

Is he keeping score and naming all the attitudes and behaviors of the Pharisees that he considers wrong? Is Jesus trying to exclude from the kingdom of God the religious leaders of his day?

· I don’t think so

Here’s what I think these confrontations are about.

· Jesus is unwilling to give up on the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter.
· Jesus is unwilling to give up on you or me.
· He just keeps on coming.

That is the good news, hope, and joy in today’s parable.

This is not so much a parable of exclusion or condemnation as it is a parable of Jesus’ unwillingness to give up. His unwillingness to give up on us often confronts us with truth about our lives that is almost always difficult to hear and accept. We might hear his words but do we realize he is taking about us? This parable and the confrontation this parable provokes are like a mirror held before us so that we might see and recognize in ourselves what Jesus sees and recognizes. This is not to condemn us but to recover us from the places of our self-exclusion, to call us back to life, and to lead us home.

Jesus doesn’t exclude us or anyone else from the kingdom of God. He doesn’t have to. We do it to ourselves and we’re pretty good at it. That’s what the Pharisees have done. The Pharisees have excluded themselves. “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you,” Jesus says to them. This is not so much a punishment for failing to produce kingdom fruits. It is, rather, the recognition of what already is. They were given the vineyard and failed to produce and share the fruits of the kingdom. Jesus is just naming the reality, the truth. They have excluded themselves. In the same way, the kingdom of God will be given to those who are already producing kingdom fruits.  This is not a reward but a recognition of what already is.

Where the fruit is, there also is the kingdom. If you want to know what the fruits of the kingdom look like then look at the life of God revealed in Jesus Christ. What do you see? Love, intimacy, mercy and forgiveness, justice, generosity, compassion, presence, wisdom, truth, healing, reconciliation, self-surrender, joy, thanksgiving, peace, obedience, and humility. I’m not talking about these things as abstract ideas but as lived realities in the vineyards of our lives.

We’ve all been given vineyards. They are the people, relationships, circumstances and events of our lives that God has entrusted to our care. That means our spouse and marriage, children and family, our work, our church, our daily decisions and choices, our hopes, dreams, and concerns are the vineyards in which we are to reveal the presence and life of God, to produce the fruits of the kingdom.

The vineyards, our work in those vineyards, and the fruit produced come together to show us to be sharers in God’s kingdom; or not. To the degree we are not producing kingdom fruits we have excluded ourselves from and rejected our share in the kingdom. We are living neither as the people God knows us to be nor as the people we truly want to be. In some way we have stepped outside of ourselves and sidestepped our own life. That’s the truth with which Jesus confronted the Pharisees. It’s the same truth with which Jesus confronts us.

You might ask How does this happen? And What does self-exclusion really look like? Here’s what I’m wondering. 

· Do you ever struggle with perfectionism, self-condemnation, and the question of whether you’re enough? Maybe that’s self-exclusion.

· Do you ever feel like you have to be in control, be right, have all the answers? Maybe that’s self-exclusion. 

· Are you carrying grudges, anger, and resentments?

· Do you look at others and begin making judgments about their beliefs and choices?

· Are there people in your life that you have chosen to let go of rather than do the work of reconciliation and heal the relationship?

· Do you go through life on auto-pilot, going through the motions but never really being present, never showing up?

· In your life is there more criticism and cynicism than thanksgiving and celebration?

· Are you hanging onto some old guilt that you believe could not be forgiven?

The antidote to our self-exclusion from God’s kingdom begins with first recognizing that self-exclusion. That means we must look at the vineyards of our lives. And when we do What do we see?

· How is our garden growing?

· Is there fruit?

· Is there life?

Are we sharing in God’s kingdom? These are all questions that we should and must ask ourselves, and more importantly, we need to honestly answer them. Recognizing how and when we self-exclude ourselves from God and His Kingdom, and then making honest and sincere changes in our lives is the most important thing we can do today to save our lives: our present life, our future life, and most importantly our Eternal Life. (Pause)

Knowing that we are all sinners, Let’s take a moment and ask God to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds, allowing His grace to enter into us, and pray that He helps us to see, like the Pharisees, just how we have been separating ourselves from the Kingdom of God! Yet, at the same time, we must never forget just how truly loved and desired we are by Christ, and that no matter how many times we fall, no matter how many times we have turned away,

He never gives up! He is always there.

And that my friends, is, the very good news of the Gospel today!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Forgiveness - 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Deacon Pat Homily - Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35
(24th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A)


· Just how good do I need to be?
· Just how many times do I need to be kind?
· Do I really need to forgive when they truly did me wrong?

Aren’t these the type of questions we just heard Peter asking Jesus in the Gospel? And what did Jesus reply: “I say to you that you are not to forgive 7 times, but 77 times.”

Forgiveness, for Jesus, is not a quantifiable event.

It is a quality; a way of being, a way of living, a way of loving, a way of relating, and a way of thinking and seeing.

It is nothing less than “The Way of Christ.”

If we are to follow Christ then it must be our way as well.

“Not 7 times, but, I tell you, 77 times.

· Does that mean the drunk driver? Yes.

· The rapist? Yes.

· The cheating spouse? Yes.

· The lying friend, the bully, the abusive parent, the greedy businessman, and even the imperfect priest or deacon? Yes!

Today we stand at a difficult, seemingly impossible, place.

We stand at the intersection of our perception of life’s realities and Christ’s teachings.

As we look at the history of the world we see the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, perceived discriminations, economic oppression, and wars and torture in the Middle East.

As we look at our own lives we find broken promises, hurt feelings, betrayals, harsh words, and physical and emotional wounds.

Every one of us could tell stories of being hurt or victimized by another.

Yet beneath the pain, the wounds, the losses, and the memories, lay the question of forgiveness.

Everyone, I suspect, is in favor of forgiveness, at least in principle.

“Everyone,” C.S. Lewis writes, “Say forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something or someone to forgive”

What do we do then?

What do we do when there is someone or something to forgive?

Some will strike back seeking revenge.

Some will run away from life and relationships.

Some will let the darkness paralyze them.

I don’t say these things out of criticism or judgment of someone else, but out of my own experience. I’ve done them all.

I know how hard forgiveness can be.

Like you, I too, struggle with it and often avoid it.

I also know that none of those answers are the way of Christ.

All of them leave us stuck in the past, tied to the evil of another, and devoid of the future God wants to give us.

Forgiveness is the only way forward.

That does not mean we forget, condone, or approve of what was done.

It does not mean we ignore or excuse cruelty or injustice.

It means… that we are released from them.

We let go of the thoughts and fantasies of revenge.

We look to the future rather than the past.

We try to see and love as God sees and loves.

Forgiveness is a way in which we align our life with God’s life.

To withhold forgiveness is to put ourselves in the place of God, the ultimate judge to whom all are accountable.

*

A few days ago I returned from walking the “Camino de Santiago” or also known as “The Way of Saint James” in Spain.

For those of you who are not aware of what this is, it is an ancient pilgrimage where one walks across the country of Spain and ends the journey at the Cathedral where Saint James’ body rest.

250,000 people from all over the world make this journey each year.

We began our journey in France and walked over the Pyrenees Mountains, through the Basque country, across the flat lands, and later through the western mountains.

While walking those hundreds of miles through the beautiful forests and small hamlets I had a great deal of time, without distraction, to think about life and the Christian journey.

I came to realize that God’s forgiveness and human forgiveness are closely intertwined.

And in today’s Gospel Parable I feel that Jesus is trying to teach us this lesson.

As you recall the King forgives his slave a huge amount and it seems that there is no debt too large to be forgiven.

The man, the debtor, was completely forgiven.

That’s what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

That’s how our God is!

Yet, this slave refused to forgive his fellow slave a much small debt.

Too often that’s what our world is like.

Frequently, it is how we are.

It that refusal the forgiven slave lost his own forgiveness.

This concept should not be news to us.

We know it well.

We acknowledge and pray it every Sunday and I’ll bet most of you pray it every day.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Sound Familiar? (Repeat verse)

We pray those words with ease and familiarity but do we live our prayer?

Do our actions support our request? Not 7 times, but, I tell you, 77 times.”

That’s a lot of forgiveness, but the pain of the world, our nation, and individuals is great.

We need to forgive as much, maybe more, for ourselves as for the one we forgive.

Forgiving those who trespass against us is the medicine that begins to heal our wounds.

It may not change the one who hurt you but I promise you this:

Your life will be more alive, more grace-filled, more whole, and more God-like for having forgiven another.

Forgiveness creates space for new life.

Forgiveness is an act of hopefulness and resurrection for the one who forgives.

It is the healing of our soul and life.

Forgiveness takes us out of darkness into light, from death to life.

It disentangles us from the evil of another.

It is the refusal to let our Future be determined by the past.

It is the letting go of the thoughts, the hatred, and the fear that fill us, so that we might live and love again.

Yet, we must understand that Forgiveness does not originate is us.

It begins with God.

That’s what the slave who refused to forgive didn’t understand.

It was not about him.

It is about God.

We do not choose to forgive.

We only choose to share the forgiveness we have already received.

Then we choose again, and then again, and then again.

For most of us, forgiveness is a process that we live into.

Sometimes, however, we just can’t.

The pain is too much, the wound too raw, the memories too real.

On those days we choose to want to forgive.

Some days we choose to want, to want to forgive.

But we choose because that’s the choice Christ made.

*

Finally, and in conclusion I would like to share that at the end of our recent time in Spain, my brother and I realized that we had a few extra days before we were to return home, so we rented a car and drove the 5 hours it took to arrive in Fatima, Portugal.

As we knelt down directly on the spot of the most public miracle of all times, we pondered the question of the real meaning of life, at least the life of a Catholic Christian.

Sorting and sifting through an abundance of thoughts, memories, and ideals, it seemed, as inspired by the faith and life of the Shepherd children: Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco, and understood with a simple and childlike understanding:

We are to love as we are loved.

That we are to forgive as we are forgiven.

And that true humility means, knowing our proper relationship to God

And that one day we will be judged for how we have lived, loved, and forgiven.

We must ask ourselves these questions before it is too late and while we can still change our ways:

Am I truly living the Christian life?

Have I applied Christ’s teachings to my life?

Am I living a daily and constant life filled with compassion, patience, understanding, kindness, and love?

And if not, am I willing to change?
And if not, do I truly understand what to expect for the eternal future,

My eternal future….and Your…Eternal…Future!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Transfiguration of our Lord

Deacon Pat - A Homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration August 6, 2017 


Today we celebrate the great Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor. The Transfiguration is and was a glimpse of the Glory of God. Yet, in addition to seeing Moses and Elijah, and the Glory of God shining through the face of Jesus, something else of great importance occurred on Mt. Tabor that day. The three Apostles heard the voice of God the Father say, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Let me say that again: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” It seems like such an easy, straight-forward command, yet it seems so very difficult for so many of us much of the time. Listening seems like one of the easiest things for us to do. After all, God gave most of us two good ears, and as my father used to point out, we should listen twice as much as we speak since we only have one mouth. However, truth be told, many of us are not very good listeners; and not because we are hard of hearing or deaf. 

Before becoming a deacon I studied for years to become a psychiatric nurse, and much of that training was so that I could become an “effective listener,” and any therapist will tell you that listening effectively can be a lot of hard work. So why are many of us not good listeners? One reason might be because we are too busy doing all the talking. We just talk and talk and many do the same to God, or maybe at God, without letting God get a word in. God is not the ultimate “customer service department” whom we call whenever we are in need. God is the Creator of all, and our loving Father. He wants a relationship with us. He knows what is for our best, even when it looks not so good to us. We need to listen to Him, for doing so will lead to both psychological and spiritual growth, which will allow us to become more aware of reality and to deal with it more effectively. “Listening makes us open to Christ, the Word of God, spoken in all things: in the material world, the Scriptures, the Church and sacraments and, sometimes most threateningly, in our fellow human beings” (Benedict Groeschel, Listening at Prayer, Paulist Press, 1984, p. 3). Listening, however, is more than just the perception of sound with our ears. There are so many sounds in our world that while we may perceive them, we do not listen to all of them. Most we simply ignore. True listening requires a response. This does not mean we need to say something. Rather it means attending to what was said, recognizing its meaning, and making it part of our inner, conscious experience. The same applies to the listening that does not come to us via our ears. God speaks to us in so many ways. One person may barely notice a patch of blue sky, whereas the person of prayer, who listens to God, sees in it the dome of heaven. Or how often do we come to Mass and are more aware of the person coughing, the kid banging their toy on the pew in front of us, and just wishing it would be over soon. The person of prayer, however, is aware of all these same things, and is not only attending to what is happening in the liturgy, but is also aware of something much more important. They are aware of participating in the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the Kingdom of Heaven with all the saints. For one, they are surrounded by distractions, while for the other they are surrounded by saints and angels. 

St. John of the Cross once pointed out that many of the people who think they are listening to God are actually only listening to themselves. 

There is so much that could be said about listening, especially in prayer, but let’s keep it simple for today. I am going to share with you a few ideas borrowed from a wonderful little book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, called Listening at Prayer. First of all, we need to learn to listen to what life is saying in the present moment before trying to shape our prayer. Too often we make the world just a projection of our own desires and fears. We can get so wrapped up in deciding what advice to give God about how to run the world, especially to meet our “needs,” that we are unable to listen to any of life’s real messages. To grow in the Christian life we must have an openness to the true and living God. We need to divest ourselves of preconceived expectations of life, and take life as it comes. Secondly, when life gives us its message, we should make the understanding of that message the first object of our prayer. At the foundation of the prayer of life is the virtue of hope, and “hope is the grace to believe that whatever events occur, they will contain the necessary ingredients of our salvation” (Benedict Groeschel, Listening at Prayer, Paulist Press, 1984, p. 18). This is often the really difficult part in listening at prayer, because often the most important lessons in life come from listening to God speaking to us in the tragic circumstances of our lives. God does not want evil in the world; it is the result of sin, of our refusing to let God’s love into certain parts of our lives. It is because of the disobedience of our first parents that a strain of disorder has infected, like a virus, all of creation. Yet God offers us the grace to see His order of love even in the disorder. 

Fr. Groeschel, in his books, tells of meeting a man terribly afflicted with leprosy which had destroyed his hands and most of his face, yet the man was grateful to have contracted the disease because prior to his illness he lived a wild, godless life. His disease allowed him to see the real emptiness of his life without God, so now he was at peace because he was seeking God and was in relationship with Him. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that it is better to enter the Kingdom of God maimed or lame than to have all our limbs and be cast into the fires of Hell. Thirdly, once we have received the message of life we must attempt to integrate it with our efforts to live by the Gospel. The Gospel must be the focal point of our lives, and not just something relegated to an hour a week at Mass. It is often rather shocking for people as they become more effective listeners at prayer to discover that many of our values and desires are quite pagan in light of the Gospel. “The prayer of listening will help us confront precisely those areas needing conversion if we do not allow discouragement and worldly values to take over.” As our prayer life improves so will how we live life. 

And Finally we need to pray that we may pray. God has no need of our prayer, in fact the very desire to pray is a gift from God. St. Paul noted in one of his epistles that often we do not know how to pray as we should, thus it is important to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of prayer. All of this requires effort on our part. We need to make time and space for prayer. Fr. Groeschel suggests that we start by first offering to the Lord some prayer that we know by heart – say the Our Father or Hail Mary – and include a petition, either for ourselves or a loved one. But then we should just relax and ponder what we have just done. We, a finite being, have just spoken to the infinite and living God. (Repeat) Wow! What an incredible thing it is to pray. Did you know that our church and the chapel that we have in our parish, is open daily for our use, and is a valuable gift that we have. It is a quiet place where we can go and just listen to God speaking in our lives. It is a place where we can pray without words. Where we, finite creatures that we are, can marvel at the infinite love that God has for us, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). And Jesus loves us so much that He not only suffered and died for us, but He further humbled Himself to remain with us, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the appearance of bread and wine. How awesome is that! We can sit in the presence of the Lord housed in the tabernacles pretty much whenever we want. And better yet, in just minutes many of us with receive him in the most intimate way, through the Eucharist. He that is everything will be united to us and us to him. Take a moment and ponder the power of that act. It is overwhelming and unexplainable. (Pause) 

Yet, The real message of today’s gospel is to LISTEN TO HIM! Really listen to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – speaking to us in the Scriptures and the sacraments, and in the ordinary moments of our lives. Listen to Him, and God will help us “surrender our preconceived notions and fantasies, to go beyond our defenses and shallow expectations, to be lifted on the eagle wings of grace” (Benedict Groeschel, Listening at Prayer, Paulist Press, 1984, p. 24). Jesus promises that “the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:8), and for the disciple who makes the effort to listen, the Kingdom of God will be revealed. The three Apostles heard the voice of God the Father say, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Become Authentic

ORDINARY TIME FIFTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B

In today’s gospel, Jesus sends the Twelve out on mission. It is the same mission that the Father gave to his Son – the mission to preach repentance and healing. It is the same mission that we have, to continue the work of the disciples. Jesus makes it clear however, that this work will only be successful if concerns about material and physical things are given less importance than the preaching of the kingdom of God. We cannot hope to be real heralds of the Good News unless we are authentic – unless we are truly sincere about our faith and show this in our lives. Just as Jesus told his Twelve to take a risk and to travel light, so he tells us in our day to also take a risk in preaching repentance and healing. The “risk” is that we are to begin with ourselves and to have the courage to change our sinful hearts. Yes, we all have sinful hearts. It is important for us to live for Jesus alone and this means that we should repent of a materialistic way of life. 

The readings from today remind me of a popular novel that was eventually made into a movie. The name of it is [Quo Vadis - which means in Latin “Where are you going?”] This is a story of the early church and especially of St. Peter’s struggle to find the courage to lead the first believers in Rome. One of my favorite passages is about a young Roman man who falls in love with a Christian girl. Since he is not a disciple of Jesus, she will have nothing to do with him. One night he follows her to a prayer meeting and there he hears St. Peter (no less) preach with great conviction. After hearing this and seeing the sincerity of the Christians present, including the one he loves, he realizes that if he wants to follow this teaching, he would have to place on a burning pile all of his thoughts and habits, his whole character and indeed his whole nature up until that moment. Only when this fire had burned his entire past into ashes would he be able to fill himself with a life altogether different – to become an entirely new person. This is repentance! It is serious and not half‐hearted. This is what Jesus preached. This is what the Twelve preached. This is what we are called to preach. But we cannot do it unless our own repentance is authentic and complete. The temptation is to point to the other guy and say, you need to repent. But we cannot convince the other guy to repent until we repent, and until our repentance brings healing. Then our example of wholeheartedly living out the Gospel will attract others to the good news of the Gospel, the Gospel of Life, the Gospel of Justice, and the Gospel of Peace. 

As many or you know my wife Liz and I are about to begin our missionary journey in a little less than 2 weeks. We will initially receive training with the Salesian in New York, followed by attending an Immersion Spanish School in Guatemala, and then final placement in Bolivia. Yet, this journey actually began many months ago when we started to purge the possessions from our lives. Week by week the possessions from many years began to disappear as we had yard sales, gave items to friends and family, and gave donations. It didn’t take long and the whole house and garage were empty. Yet, the climatic event was when our house sold and we were without a home, only retaining a few sentimental possessions, items that could fit into our vehicle. I didn’t know what it would feel like being void of everything that I had accumulated until that moment when we drove away from our former home. I pondered that feeling for many hours and maybe I am still processing some of those feeling yet today…. But to sum it up, what I carry is a feeling of total freedom. The burden of possessions is gone; the responsibility of owning and paying for things has been lifted. I feel unattached and able to give in a way I have never experienced before. When Jesus instructed the disciples to take nothing for their journey he knew that worldly things would get in the way of spreading the message of God. Our lives have to be authentic and what we teach and preach are to be lived out by us. It is necessary for us to “travel light” as we preach the Good News. Only then will our Catholic lives be attractive to others. Only then will we begin to fill the hunger of those around us. Only then will the healing begin. In today’s gospel, Jesus left it up to the Twelve. Today he leaves it up to us. Let’s Become Authentic in our Faith! Start today to purge from your lives all that which has become an obstacle in your life of faith! Begin today to preach repentance by your actions and your life! Be not afraid, Take a risk, and become… authentically and joyfully Catholic!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Finding God in our Weakness


The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ex 2:2-5, 2 Cor 12:7-10, MK 6:1-6
A Homily adapted from a version from Fr. Murchadh

A couple of years ago I was talking to a man who was telling me about his life.  He said that most things in his life were great, except for one thing.  He shared that had a terrible temper, which was so frustrating.  He said, ‘If only I didn’t have this temper, everything would be perfect.’ 

I couldn’t help but think that this weakness that was so frustrating to him, was probably also one of the things that helped him to stay close to God.  Because if he thought he was perfect he would probably also think that he had no need for God.  I heard it once said that if we are not aware of our weaknesses we can become terribly arrogant, and in the face of arrogance, God is hidden.

The readings today remind me of a priest known simply as Brother Andrew, who co-founded the Brothers part of the Missionaries of Charity with Mother Teresa.  In one of his books about his experiences, he writes: ‘Few people would believe the weakness on which the Missionaries of Charity are built.’ 

It is a strange statement for most people to hear when we think of people like Mother Teresa and the extraordinary work that she and the many other sisters and brothers do.  Brother Andrew speaks a lot about his own weakness, although he doesn’t say exactly what it was, except that he suffered from some kind of addiction.  This weakness, which frustrated him so much, was also one of the things that made him holy.   He doesn’t say that, but you can see it from his writings.  The reason why God did such great work through him, through Mother Teresa and through so many others, was not because they were talented enough, but because they were aware of how weak they were and so they relied totally on God for everything.

The reason why God was able to do such extraordinary things through the saints is not because they were perfect, but because they were weak people who continually turned to him and so God was able to use them in an extraordinary way.  It is very easy to get a false impression of what holiness is since books can often give us the impression that saints were people who did no wrong.  The truth is saints were and are weak people, with just as many weaknesses as any of us, but they continually turned to God for help and as a result God was able to work through them in an amazing way.  To understand this is key to growing in the spiritual life.  If the saints were perfect people who never did any wrong, then very few of us could relate to them.  But if they were weak people just like any of us—which they were and are—then not only can we relate to them, but it should help us to see that the same path is open to us, because it doesn’t depend on us being good enough, rather it depends on us continually turning to God.  That is the key.

There is no one here who doesn’t struggle with weaknesses of one kind or another.  It could be some kind of addiction, it could be a need to control, an emotional dependency, whatever.  We all have something and as you well know it can be extremely frustrating.

However, I find it consoling that two thousand years ago St. Paul writes about the exact same thing (See this Sunday’s second reading 2 Cor 12:7-10).  Paul was a very intelligent man, well educated and obviously very talented.  And even though he had visions of Jesus which converted him and then he went and preached everywhere, he too suffered from some kind of weakness, although he doesn’t say what it was. In today’s second reading you can really sense his frustration as he says that three times he asked God to take this thing away from him, and three times God said ‘No, my strength is at its best in weakness.’  This weakness, whatever it was, obviously helped him more than he realised.  It kept him humble and it meant that he continually needed to turn to the Lord and ask for his help and that is why he and so many other men and women were such powerful instruments in God’s hands, because they relied totally on God and not on themselves as they were well aware of how weak they were.

I have no doubt that all of us probably feel that we would be much better off if we could overcome our weaknesses.  But perhaps these readings will help us to see that the Lord knows what He is doing when He allows us to struggle with them.  Yes, they are frustrating, but they can also be a gift in the sense that they make us rely on the power of God more than on ourselves.  It also reminds us that it is not a question of being ‘good enough’ for God.  We will never be good enough, but that doesn’t matter.  As long as we know that we are weak then we will see that we have someone to turn to who really can and will help us.

In closing, let’s take a moment and prayerfully reflect on our own personal…. You know , that thing tha we struggle with week after week.

 Let’s just how powerless we are when we rely only on ourselves….. We need God’s help.

Now take that weakness and allow it to humble you….. allow it to make you a little less judgmental…… maybe a little more forgiving, understanding, and compassionate.


Take that weakness and give it to God…… and then, let’s humbly pray that we may become a reflection of God to others in the world