“In Weakness Power Reaches Perfection”

Helping Jesus Carry the CrossIn the current dismal reality of this economic recession, sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, or for that matter, even the sunlight of the present day. So many individuals across the nation and throughout the world have had to cut back and tighten their belts in numerous ways. Of course, this means forgoing sometimes certain pleasures we take for granted. I’ve had my own share of this experience during the recession and it isn’t always easy to say no to treats, luxuries, and other wanton items or occasions that we could take part in without consideration when times were better.

As I was reading Morning Prayer for Friday’s Divine Office the day’s Scriptural reading seemed to speak out to me in a uniquely personal way, He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. There I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ; for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).

Although I had heard this theme time and time again it seemed to resonate with me anew that morning. When we are weak, we are strong, even if we can’t understand why, because we depend on God’s grace all the more. This precedent also ties into that classic theological tenant of Catholicism, that of redemptive suffering, which exhorts us to share and unite of all our sufferings to those of Christ’s Passion and Death made present in the Holy Mass. It’s indeed a difficult concept to grapple, but Scripture even encourages us that our sufferings are not in vain but are united to those of Christ’s Body. Jesus Himself of course urged us to follow Him and carry our own crosses with Him, unless we accept our own sufferings we cannot adaquately follow Him.

The fact that St. Paul tells us we are strong when we are weak should be of particular consolation to us. The past election cycle of the presidential campaign is a perfect example of this. When progressive voices yearning for change were simply silenced during the eight-year, tyrannic duration of the Bush administration even if it seemed as if the will of the people was being stifled it was not in vain. Impetus building up within that vacuum of cynicism and prohibition is what fueled the fire that would elect Sen. Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States of America. So, even though LGBT individuals are dismayed at the President’s, seemingly nonchalant attitude towards their plight and their fight for equal civil rights, it might be useful to ponder the situation and be patient. Understanding that the more patience is borne, even though the wait might be long, the ultimate goal will be worth the wait. The same is true of we progressives within the Catholic Church. Even though now voices of the Pope and his fellow members of the episcopacy seem out of touch to reality our voices continue to gain resonance, even though externally our cause may seem very weak, we continue to become strengthened the further ground our message gains. When we are weak, we are our strongest.

So, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ’s Body and Blood this Sunday let’s take consolation in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. He promised that He would remain with us always and He has done so through the sacramental reality of the Eucharist.  So even if in our weaknesses we fail to see how our strength shines through we can turn to the Eucharistic Lord for encouragement, grace, and the energy to go forward. So uniting the sufferings, trials, challenges, and injustices of this life to Christ’s ultimate Sacrifice let’s always try to follow Him and to rejoice in His closeness to us and see the rays of His benevolent love as He looks upon us from the monstrance.

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About Phillip Clark

Phillip Clark is a social justice visionary, writer, and legal worker in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a contributing author to “Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics.” Interests include politics, theology, civil/human rights, social justice, LGBT rights, international relations, and history.

2 thoughts on ““In Weakness Power Reaches Perfection”

  1. Wow, I really think it’s wonderful the grasp you have on the Catholic view of suffering. I’m just starting to understand this myself, and the way you put it is really fantastic. It shows a beautiful depth to your faith.

    However… I don’t understand “progressive” Catholics. I don’t understand how people can not only support, but seemingly adore, a man who has so little respect for the sanctity of human life and the values at the core of the Christian civilization. Barack Obama is a man whose views are diametrically opposed to the central elements of the Catholic Faith and the bishops and even the Holy Father have spoken out against these views.

    What do you mean by progressive? And how do you reconcile liberal values with the Faith.

    • It frustrates me how many often people make statements about President Obama’s views being opposed to the central elements of Catholicism when so much of what he stands for is in line with Catholic social teaching. His policies on the poor, underserved, and underprivileged in our country and in the world are more “Christian” by far than many “pro-life” politicians who seem to be all talk and no action (there have been a LOT of Republicans in government throughout my lifetime, all of whom bandied about the abortion issue to win Christian voters, and none of whom did much of anything about it; they all seemed a bit too invested in wars that killed Americans and others alike to give abortion much time or thought unless it was election season). I am Catholic, and I am morally pro-life. To me, that must mean more than sustaining a pregnancy; it means building a world in which those who are already alive are treated with as much care, compassion, and fervor for their well-being as those who are not yet born. Yes, we must treat every life with dignity, but our concern for life must go beyond what happens during pregnancy. I support Barack Obama and other “progressive” politicians not because they are “pro-choice,” but because I believe they work for a world where women and families will have more resources and more support to choose life.

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