Strong in Weakness

Trust shapes the Christian life and the practice of Christian ministry. Jesus sends out the disciples in pairs, but they must be vulnerable, open, emptyhanded as they go into the world. They must take nothing for the journey — no food, no money, no extra clothes. Their source of strength will be the authority that Jesus gives them, not their own holdings. They cannot save up for the next day, but they can trust there will be places of welcome and opportunities to serve as they venture on their way. However, none of this will be on their own terms. They cannot make reservations for the places they will stay, and they cannot predict when they will be needed. The situation is out of their control, but it is in God’s hands.

If the disciples seemed to be sent out in vulnerability, we may see that God’s grace was sufficient for them and that God’s power was made perfect in their weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Jesus gave them authority over the unclean spirits. They proclaimed repentance. They cast out many demons, they anointed and cured many sick people. The power of God’s love to heal and transform was revealed in their ministry and made known in their weakness. That’s the paradox. They were strong in their weakness. They were constantly at risk, but they shared God’s love in a powerful way. The extraordinary, the divine was known through their ordinary lives.

Amos also knew about the extraordinary in the ordinary. He said he was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees. Then the Lord took him from following the flock and sent him to prophesy to the people of Israel. Amos was humble in himself, but mighty in the Lord. He spoke with power. The people who opposed him could not bear his words.

Our Lord commissions and sends ordinary people like us to do the work of ministry, and that work can be abundant in its fruits. But we need to trust in God — not our own sense of control — for the work to flourish. It’s not about us, and we’ll get in the way if we cling to our own agenda or insist on our way. If our hands are full with our own stuff, we’re hindered if we try to receive or share Christ’s many gifts. But if we let go in trust, we can receive and offer help from beyond ourselves.

Look it Up

What examples do we find in scripture or Christian tradition of conversion as a letting go of an obstacle, a habit or a possession? What can we learn from Zacchaeus or the prodigal son? What can we learn from St. Augustine or St. Francis?

Think About It

Is there something that comes between you and Christ’s gifts for you? Do you resist letting it go? How can you change without the obstacle being in the way?


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