Today’s Readings[1] and Failure

It struck me today that the success rate for prophets was quite miserable. In fact, most were at least not listened to, particularly by the religious officials, if not killed. But, as today’s first reading pointed out: And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them. {Ez 2:5] [2]

The other two readings also relate “failures,” Paul’s to get God to remove the thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan…And God’s answer to his three pleas: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. [2Cor 12:7-9]

Jesus, too, felt the pain of failure and rejection, particularly from his kinfolk and neighbors. In fact, they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” …He was amazed at their lack of faith. [Mk 6:3-4,6]

And of course the worse failure of all seemed to be the cross, Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. [1Cor 1:23-25]

I think God’s telling me something: that the important thing is not to win or even lose, it’s to obey, to show up, to be there, to witness however poorly that turns out…which is what Paul meant when he said: I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, [all types or signs of failure] for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. [2Cor 12:9-10]

I then made today’s meditation [below] which had to do with the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.[Gal 5:22-23] And I realized for the first time that neither these nor the gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe) [Is 11:2] are geared to success [nor, again, failure for that matter] but to just doing the Lord’s will and letting the results reside with Him.

Just goes to show you that God can still teach this old dog new tricks….

[1] 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B: EZ 2:2-5; 2 COR 12:7-10; MK 6:1-6

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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