Any truly compelling story always seems to have one common element: just as the protagonist or hero of the story is nearing their goal – whether it is true love, destined position or treasure – some major setback interrupts everything and this hurdle needs to be overcome before we can reach the conclusion, and everyone lives happily ever after as the credits roll. This is not just in Hollywood films but also it seems in many saints lives. For example, it was only after the death of (Mother) Teresa of Kolkata that her diaries revealed the extent of personal darkness that she experienced in prayer and her difficulties to continue to believe. The writings of St Therese of Lisieux show a similar depression and darkness in her final years. We can surmise that what St Paul reveals in today’s passage from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 was a similar hurdle that he really didn’t want to dominate his life. Yet here was this skolops that Paul was experiencing in his flesh – usually translated as a thorn, but perhaps better translated as a stake – a military description of the sharpened stake of timber driven into the ground around your defences to impale an invading soldier. Paul didn’t need or want this skolops – so he prays to the Lord again and again and again to remove it. But the Lord doesn’t provide a simple solution or resolution. No Hollywood movie here. No instead the Lord addresses Paul and tells him that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” This is the only saying of the risen Lord in the letters of Paul. We are on sacred ground here. It is not in our strength that God has room to move – but in our weakness. As Paul concludes this section: “when I am weak, then strong I am” – channelling Yoda he was.
Recorded at St Col’s (Vigil and 9am; 10-11 mins)
Sunday 14, Year B.
Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6