My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9
As a part of my study of St. Joseph and his life, I picked up a copy of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Patris Corde
(With a Father’s Heart) that was released in December. In the letter, the Holy Father established this year as the Year of St. Joseph. While reading through, I came across this passage from the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.
Jesus’ words to Paul really struck me. Even in our victim culture, weakness is a negative. Claiming victim status is an assertive position, a way to ironically claim power over another. Weakness is something to be avoided, and yet it’s unavoidable. The nature of the human person is weakness.
What does it mean for power to be made perfect in weakness? It reminds me of Socrates. His intellectual prowess is undisputed, but he claimed to know nothing. Thomas Aquinas, after a mystical experience, said his theological writings were like straw. These two men provided the intellectual underpinnings for Western thought through thousands of years, and they did so by embracing their weakness.
The power of the human person, fully alive, is only unleashed when in proper relationship with God. By taking our place in service to God, we can be His instrument in our world. All good gifts come from Him; we are His body, His hands, His feet. We feed the hungry, help the oppressed, console the hurting. We do this all through our weakness because He gives us the grace and the strength to carry out His saving mission.
When we accept and embrace our weakness, we make our hearts and minds one with God. We seek to do His Will, and are more ready to accept the graces that we need to carry out His plan. Pride is a deadly sin, the antidote to which are the virtues of humility and weakness. God did not make us to be strong on our own, but to be channels of His grace for our hurting world.