As I read all of the readings today, I was struck by one idea. So often, I think that we expect to be welcomed and accepted by the world. We think that if we just treat people with kindness and respect that we will get kindness and respect in return. At the very least, we hope to be accepted and to “blend in.”
If Jesus who was sin free, healed people and worked miracles was questioned, humiliated and ultimately killed, how can we expect that the world will treat Christ’s followers any better?
Being a Christian means being counter-cultural. We are not meant to “blend in.” We should pray for the courage to witness our faith, to stand up for Jesus and to be a light to this broken world even – and especially when we are ignored, treated rudely or are out-and-out rejected. Many suffer from “hardness of heart.” We, however, have the gift of the Holy Spirit who “sets us on our feet” and helps us to keep pushing forward despite the obstacles.
In the second reading, St. Paul asked that God relieve Him of the pain he was suffering. God did not give Paul what He wanted. Instead He said, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Clearly God was using Paul’s suffering to shape Paul’s character and virtue. He may have also been using it for the conversion of souls. God promises us too that He will not test us beyond our strength – that He will provide the grace needed to get through whatever He sends or allows to happen to us. Sometimes, when things get really tough we question this! The deal is that grace is not stored up. You can’t pray ahead of time for grace for what may or may not happen in the future. This is when we must trust and have faith- God keeps His promises!