October 8, 2019
I have always been encouraged by St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians when he talks about “a thorn in the flesh that was given to me.” He tells us that he asked God to take this away—whatever it was—three times, but God’s response was that God’s grace would be sufficient for Paul, and that God’s power would best be manifested through Paul’s weakness (2 Cor 12:7-9).
It seems to me that our gospel story about the ten lepers is an example of God’s power being manifested through another’s weakness. Who would not want to be rid of leprosy? Yet, this debilitating disease is the very way that God is able to manifest God’s power through the healing power of Jesus. It is through the leprosy that the lepers experienced good health. The way to their resurrection came through the cross they carried.
It is a common experience for people to reflect that they often are aware of the same faults that they have, and they often confess the same sins—sometimes year after year. They often wonder if any of this makes sense and if it is worthwhile to even keep trying. But, perhaps, we should reflect upon this situation in light of what Paul experienced. We would like to be free of “our thorn in the flesh” but it remains. But, perhaps this weakness is what keeps us humble and helps us to realize that we are always in need of God’s graciousness in our lives. Perhaps, whatever this is in our lives—that we long to be rid of—is the very way that God’s power is continually manifested in our lives.
Like the leper, we would do well to not take the manifestation of God’s power in our weakness for granted. And we would do well to look for the resurrection through the cross we carry.