By Michael Smith

A Reading from 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

1 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3 And I know that such a person — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows — 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Meditation

Once, as a requirement for a course I was taking on spirituality, I read Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Ávila, a 16th century Carmelite nun from Spain. Teresa envisioned the soul as a crystal castle with seven mansions representing seven stages of deeper and deeper levels of intimacy with God, culminating in mystical union. I remember not understanding much of what she taught and feeling very much her spiritual inferior.

I think of Teresa today because of Paul’s comments about “visions and revelations of the Lord.” He knew a person who had been caught up to “the third heaven,” not knowing if the person was “in the body or out of the body.” Paul relates that the person was “caught up into paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.”

It is a comfort and relief to hear Paul say, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” I doubt that I will ever become a spiritual superstar this side of heaven, so I will simply trust that Christ will open the doors of the mansions he intends for me to walk through. His grace is sufficient.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of New Jersey
The Diocese of Upper South Carolina