Weakness and Power
(5th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16)
In many cultures, people prefer to shed tears in private than where others can see them. Perhaps this is because tears are sometimes seen as a sign of weakness. From that point of view, Our Lady could say, with St. Paul, “I came to you in weakness.”
In fact, much of what St. Paul says in today’s second reading could be said of Mary at La Salette. This is especially true of her wearing the crucifix: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
We have often noted that, according to Maximin and Mélanie, the light of the Apparition emanated from that crucifix. In John 8:12 Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world.”
In this week’s Gospel, he reminds us that we, too, are the light of the world. He also describes us as salt of the earth.
It is hard for us to imagine tasteless salt. The Beautiful Lady talks about blighted wheat, literally, but the image could apply figuratively to her people. When put to the test, what was their faith? It crumbled, like the ears of wheat.
St. Paul also states, “I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom,” and “My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power.” At La Salette, Mary went so far as to speak the patois, the local dialect, typically associated with uneducated rural classes, in contrast with the French that she used at the beginning. And she spoke of things that her people could understand.
Coming in weakness is not the same as being powerless. It means that the power that we might show is not ours, but comes from God. Mary’s simple words had power, which she communicated to the children, empowering them to make her message known.
How bright our light could shine, quoting Isaiah now, “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted.”
All this and more we may be empowered to do, but, always remember, the glory is God’s.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse