Jesus – Our Strength in Weakness
Paul experienced in the marrow of his bones the contradiction of the coexistence within himself of the strength of God working in him for the apostolate and his own human weakness. This is also the experience of the whole Church and each of us personally: it may be the experience of married people, of whom absolute fidelity is demanded even though they are weak. For we bear in us both the death and the resurrection of Christ. But God and the grace of Christ are always stronger than our weakness.
1 Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
R. (17a) To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise. or: R. Alleluia.
I believed, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm,
“No man is dependable.” R.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. R.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people. R.
Alleluia: Philippians 2:15d, 16a
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 5:27-32
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Anna B. Warner, in 1860 composed a song titled, “Jesus loves me.” The last line of the first stanza means: “We are weak but God is strong.” The more fragility shows forth in our human makeup, the more the power of God appears in our all-too-human flesh. In our weak humanity, we are afflicted in every way. All of this is part of the dying of Jesus, now lived out by extension in the life of every Christian. But Jesus dies in order to bring forth life, and it is in our human weakness that this new life appears. Although we are repeatedly beaten down, the life of Jesus, that of the Holy Spirit, becomes ever more evident.
The Gospel today sets forth Jesus’ teaching on adultery and divorce in a very strong statement of opposition. And once again, it goes deeper than the evil act (the end). The seeds of adultery lie in the stray heart, and therefore we are enjoined to uproot every semblance of lust. And lust, to be sure, means more than impure thoughts, something to which we are all prone. Lust is an internal struggle marked by attempts to actualize the evil desire. And it is this that Jesus’ teaching excludes.
We all face the struggle of the Christian life, but we are also assured than in Christ victory will come. Just as the righteousness of God triumphed in Christ, so, too, it will in us if we remain faithful.
We often feel how weak we are, how we want to lead good and upright lives, and yet easily fail and even fall. But the risen Lord is our strength, in him we trust, and with him we thank God for it. Constant communion with Jesus is needed. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!