Strength in Weakness
(14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)
We often experience our tears as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. We struggle against them, we hide them if we can. In many cultures, it is extremely rare for adults to cry in front of other persons, and only the most intense grief or pain can cause them to do so.
At La Salette, the Blessed Virgin showed herself in tears. Far from demonstrating weakness, however, they are one of the strengths of the Apparition, an important part of its appeal.
When we are in the presence of someone crying, most often we want to find a way to comfort or console. But Mary said, “However much you pray, however much you do, you will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you.” Before such words we feel powerless ourselves.
St. Paul, however, encourages us when he writes, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” In the notion of weakness he includes “insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints,” such as Jesus experienced even in his visit home and Ezekiel was told he could expect to encounter as a prophet.
It is in this context that St. Paul quotes the Lord’s words to him: “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, the source of our strength does not, cannot lie in ourselves.
When the Beautiful Lady calls us to conversion, she highlights prayer and the Mass because these are the best ways to obtain from the Lord the strength that can come only from him—strength to make necessary changes in our lives, to accept the hardships or rejection they may entail. If we rely on our own efforts, we will fail.
The hardest part for us is giving up. I don’t mean abandoning hope but acknowledging how powerless we are. This is painful. It may even lead to tears.
In the confessional at La Salette Shrines we often encounter penitents who weep as they confess their struggles with sin. They apologize for their tears, but one of our priests has learned to say to them, “This is La Salette. Tears are welcome here.”