Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Where We are Weak, God is Strong

Colleen O’Sullivan
There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles.  Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.  Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.
Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.  Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them.  With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.  For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured.  There was great joy in that city.   (Acts 8:1b-8)

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise.  Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”  (Psalm 66:1-3a)

Persecution, fear, brutal home invasions, imprisonment, grief at the grave of a martyred brother – each one a snapshot of life in the fledgling church in Jerusalem.  This certainly isn’t what James and John or their mother envisioned when they asked for seats of honor at Jesus’ right and left sides or what they imagined when they agreed they could drink the cup that Jesus drank.  Yet here they and their friends find themselves, despised and hunted, powerless to change their situation.

What were any of us expecting when we signed on to follow Jesus?  That the path to eternal life would somehow take a detour for us and miss the Cross?  Every one of us at some point will suffer and be unable to remedy the situation at hand.  Someone we dearly love dies.  The health we’ve taken for granted begins to deteriorate.  The sin we’ve committed that hurt another gravely weighs on our conscience.  We are helpless, totally without power to save ourselves.

But look at what happens in the second half of today’s reading.  Many of the disciples are sent to the countryside to escape the chaos and danger in the city.  They are scared and don’t know what else to do, so they flee.  But where we are weak, God is strong.  God uses the situation to create the first missionaries.  Philip brings the Word and its healing power to people who otherwise might never have heard of the Christ.  The infant Church begins to grow!

The paradox of our faith is that it is in dying that we come to eternal life.  It is in admitting our inability to fix ourselves that we are healed.  It is in placing our grief, our sorrow or our remorse into God’s hands that we grow spiritually and are made whole.

As you reflect back over your life, have you noticed this to be true?  

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