Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"...they are weak, but He is strong...." (Homily 54)

You just gotta beliEEEEEve!
"Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name.... Out of the mouths of babies and infants you have ordained strength.... What is man that You are mindful of him? [...] You have crowned him with glory and honor, [and] have made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands.... How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!" Ps. 8:1-9

"God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the mighty, and the base and despised things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no flesh should glory in His presence." I Cor. 1:27-29

We want to be strong. We want to be better than others, or at least better than ourselves. We want our projects to succeed and our plans to bear fruit. We want our dreams to be realized, and we hope we have the skill and wit and tenacity to see them through. We want to be noticed and appreciated, to be seen as worthy and valuable, to be know as someone who brings something to the table. We hope that we have the charm and looks and abilities necessary to grab and hold someone's, anyone's attention. We want to know that we can do it. We want to know that we are loved and have secured that love.

"Hello! I am your problems."
We fear weakness. We fear failure. We fear being worthless and of no consequence, but that is often how we feel. Projects and plans and dreams stall or stall-out, becoming insurmount- able, seeming so very, very big and we so very, very small. We are ignored and unnoticed and undervalued. We feel everyone's eyes piercing past us, or worse: piercing into us and seeing all the mess, the flaws, the inconsistencies and hypocrisies. The failures and inabilities. The terrible burden of our innate weakness. We can feel unmade and exposed before others, and we will avoid any place or any person we feel we cannot fool. We will not risk the exposure. We will not risk having to confront ourselves, our small, weak selves.

God confronts us. He knows us. He knows our weakness. He knows that we are dust and fading vapor (Ps. 103:13-16). He knows how the weight of even our fleeting existence can become crushing. He knows our frustrations. He knows our fears. The fear of failure. The fear of weakness. The fear of making mistakes and not being who you were meant to be, not fulfilling all you were made to do, always feeling out of joint like a bone out of socket. He knows all about it, and He has only compassion and pity and sympathy for you. This Great Strength has nothing but merciful, loving kindness to we who are the great weak. He has kindness and purpose, for this Great Strength uses the weak for His great purposes. He calls and justifies and glorifies the doubting and the frail and the fearful and the downright unimpressive (Rom. 8:28-30) while all who are supremely confident in their own impressiveness are left outside (Luke 18:9-14), for this Great Strength summons the sick and not the healthy (Mark 2:16-17) and exalts the weak while crushing the proud through the weak (James 4:6; I Cor. 1:27-29).

The Word became weakness.
We who are weak and fearful and frustrated and self-de- feated and weary, come and find rest (Matt. 11:28-30). We have a great and mighty advocate, for we have a God who has been touched by our infirmities (Heb. 4:14-16). God became a man; not just a man, but a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Is. 53:2-4). He felt with His real skin and real soul the agonies of fear and rejection and betrayal and the seeming failure of all His efforts. We have a God who was afraid (Matt. 26:38-39), whose stress created sweat as thick as blood drops (Luke 22:44). We have a God who failed, whose messianic ministry lost all of its followers through offense (John 6:60-61, 66) or fear (Mark 14:50) and ended in ignominy and death. And yet, and yet, it was through those fears and failures and agonies that God triumphed. He triumphed through weakness, not in spite of it. The weakness of God, the strength made perfect in weakness, is still stronger than all the might of darkness and evil and human skill and ability. He has sanctified weakness and made it holy, made it into a means of triumph (II Cor. 12:9-10), made it His favorite tool and weapon and made weak people His favorite heroes, all so we may know that there is no God like this. Amen.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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