HEALING OUR FRAGILITY
Through our weakness
We open this issue of Ekklesia with an excerpt from Patris Corde, the apostolic letter marking the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron saint of the universal Church (no. 2).
The history of salvation is worked out “in hope against hope” (Rom 4:18) through our weaknesses. All too often, we think that God works only through our better parts, yet most of his plans are realized in and despite our frailty. Thus, Saint Paul could say: “To keep me from being too proud, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too proud. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor 12:7-9).
Since this is part of the entire economy of salvation, we must learn to look upon our weaknesses with tender mercy (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 88).
The evil one makes us see and condemn our frailty, whereas the Spirit brings it to light with tender love. Tenderness is the best way to touch the frailty within us. Pointing fingers and judging others are frequently signs of an inability to accept our own weaknesses, our own frailty. Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser (cf. Rev 12:10). That is why it is so important to encounter God’s mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we experience his truth and tenderness. Paradoxically, the evil one can also speak the truth to us, yet he does so only to condemn us. We know that God’s truth does not condemn, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us. That truth always presents itself to us like the merciful father in Jesus’ parable (cf. Lk 15:11-32). It comes out to meet us, restores our dignity, sets us back on our feet and rejoices for us, for, as the father says: “This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (v. 24).
Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.
© Libreria Editrice Vaticana © Città Nuova 2021