In our Weakness, God makes us strong

I was on retreat with the Seniors Sunday and Yesterday so a little delayed in posting this homily.

We have our seniors here who are about to go on Senior Retreat. I ask all of us to pray for them in this important time of your life.

Now Seniors How many of you ride a bike or own one?

Did they have gears on them?

Now riding down here in Louisiana on mostly flat roads which would agree you would benefit from a higher gear?

When I was a kid, I loved riding my bike and riding in the neighborhood I would always keep it in high gear because once I got moving it was easy to go fast with fewer turns of the peddle.

Have any of you been to the mountains?

Have you driven or rode a bike in the mountains?

Going up a steep hill do you think it would be advantageous to keep it in a high hear? NO!

It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike, but I just got back from the mountains in North Carolina. When you go up very steep hills at a slow speed, you shift the car into low first or second, same if you were to ride a bike, keep it in one of the lower gears so you can keep the legs going.

It may seem counter-intuitive, we might think when going up a steep hill we need to push the power into the bike or the car, but instead, when you put it in a low gear, it’s easier to maintain forward speed going up a steep hill.

The letter of Hebrews tells us; the high priest can deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he is beset by weakness. The author of Hebrews also spoke to us in last week’s reading about weakness and the weakness of Jesus Christ, our great high priest.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness.” This may seem strange to us, to have someone speak so much about weakness and maybe not so much about the strength someone needs in this world.

It’s common for us to always look at what are the good things we can do. In my experience at the seminary, it was easy for us to look at our brother seminarians and say, that guy is going to be a good priest for the youth, he naturally interacts with teens. That guy is going to be a canon lawyer; he seems to know everything. That guy is going to run the biggest parish in the diocese one day, and that guy is going to be a bishop. We do this in all areas of our lives, and it is a good thing, but Hebrews challenges us to not only think about our strengths and the things we do well. In some ways Hebrews turns it around, God’s representatives on earth are the ones who are beset with weakness. What Hebrews is telling us is that a man who knows he is a weak man, becomes God’s vessel God’s instrument on earth. God chooses those who are weak and allow God to work through them.

The man in today’s Gospel is beset by weakness, he is blind, and his blindness has made him a poor beggar. You may know someone who is blind and how difficult that can make a life for them. Today we are blessed to have many bits of help for those who are blind, but in the ancient world they were not there, and they looked down on him. The crowd rebuked him for calling out to Jesus. They do not silence Bartimeous rather he is persistent knowing he needs God’s grace to set him free.

There are parts of who we are that make things we have to do more challenging than it may be for others. For example for me, there are many parts of now my Deaconate and eventually, my priesthood that I’ll need to be the center of attention, and be very sociable and engaging with people. Now you likely have noticed this can be a bit of a challenge for me at times. I something thinks I have to put in all of this effort to be successful, but today’s readings remind us most of the times it’s better to let go and let God help.  It’s in this we can learn to trust in God rather than say, “God I got this, you go take a nap.”

We all know life is never a flat interstate where you can put on cruise control, and keep the car in the center. Instead life many times will bring big ups and downs, large hills we have to get over. The readings today challenge us to humble ourselves and allow others to help us in our journey in this life and our journey to the Lord. The readings to also challenge us to humbly approach our Lord and say. “Lord, I’m too weak for what you want me to do, give me your grace to do it.” It’s in those moments that we turn to our lowest gears and let go of that desire to push as hard as we can. The Lord truly can work some miraculous things in our lives if we simply allow him to give us the grace we need.

Seniors you will soon move on to college and begin to face the world more by yourself. I’ll be praying for you and with you on your retreat the next couple days, and I hope you succeed, but never forget that it’s God grace that helps us through those steep challenges. May our weakness not discourage us but remind us to turn to the help God gives us.


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