By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace
St. Paul’s words today are either a great comfort or challenge, depending on how you want to look at them. It is clear that he had some kind of affliction—many believe that he stuttered. That did not stop him from his daring ministry of preaching, teaching and traveling. It can be such a relief to realize that we do not have to be perfect in order to follow Christ.
On the other hand, it is also a reminder that our weaknesses are no excuse for not getting out there on behalf of the Gospel. In fact, if there is anything the whole Communion of Saints has taught us, is that any person can be an exemplary witness of the Christian faith—no matter what disabilities you have, no matter how old or young you are, rich or poor, formally educated or street smart, there have been multitudes of people before us who have had all sorts of weaknesses who were stunning role models of what it means to be Christian.
Our culture places so much importance on accumulating more and more stuff for ourselves: More achievements and diplomas on our resumes, bigger and better cars and houses. We need to be polished public speakers and well-groomed in all the ways of the world. Without a proper balance of humility, we can use these things to inflate our ego or for power and control.
The message today is not an excuse to be mediocre. Our vocation is to use our gifts and talents for the sake of the Kingdom, no question about that. But God can and will work through us no matter what. In fact, it may be easier for God to work through us when we are weak, because then we not trying to muscle through it ourselves by our own efforts.
It is also a reminder for us to be willing to hear God’s voice wherever it may come. In the Gospel, few took Jesus seriously because they knew new his parents and figured he was just the kid from the neighborhood they had known for years. St. Paul was ridiculed for his affliction. They could not hear the message of the Gospel because it did not come in a way they were expecting. Sometimes God speaks through the most humble and ordinary people and circumstances.
Maybe there is someone in your life that you do not take seriously. Could it be that God is speaking to you through them?