God’s Power in Weakness and "Laudato Si" – My Homily for Saturday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings speak beautifully about God’s power amid human weakness.  St. Paul boasts in his own weakness, he says, “I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[1]  How many of us would be willing to say that?  More often than not we are not content with weakness.  Because being weak is scary!  Being weak means that we can’t rely on ourselves, but must rely on others and our culture frowns on dependency like this.  But weakness is exactly what St. Paul is praising!  But St. Paul is not referring only to being physically weak, he is referring to something deeper; he is saying he must be spiritually dependent on God for everything and not himself in order to let God work through Him.  He must be “weak” and depend on God and in that God will work his power through him.  And God promised St. Paul that His grace was sufficient.  And the same is true for all of us!  We may want to rely on ourselves for everything and not want to be weak, but that is exactly what we must do in the Christian life.  St. Paul had to let go of his own need to control in order to let God work through him and so must we.  Ultimately, this is God’s work in us, not our own.
This is a challenge that we must face each and every day, especially in the culture we live in.  In a world so full of technology, we sometimes rely on our smartphones more than we rely on God.  In an attempt to not be weak like St. Paul, we turn to the consumption of things as a way of fulfillment, of appearing strong, as if having more things would strengthen us and fill our hearts easier than God would.  This consumerism can manifest in a variety of ways, whether it is always having the newest car or iPhone to a constant consumption of Facebook and Twitter.  But the more we consume in our attempt to be strong and fulfilled and don’t turn to God, the more we feel we need to consume.
Two days ago, Pope Francis released an encyclical called Laudato Si (Praised Be to You: On Care For Our Common Home).  Laudato Si is an encyclical letter addressed to all people about the care of our planet and its future and I encourage you to read it on your own when you have time.  It is more than just an encyclical about the environment, though.  Pope Francis is calling each one of us to conversion of heart regarding the dignity of God’s creation both within ourselves and the world around us.  The earth is our home and it isn’t ours to dominate, but is ours to care for.[2]   But this must begin with an interior conversion of heart, recognizing God in all of creation and that He is our fulfillment, and not in the domination of the world around us.  In one part of his letter, Pope Francis addressed this consumerism mentality directly and I want to read you that quote, he says, “When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears,” (LS 204).  Pope Francis, like St. Paul, wants us to realize that dominating and consuming the world around us in an attempt to be strong without God is a path that leads to despair, emptiness, and ruin for the earth and all people.  Rather we must be weak and rely on God because that relationship will bring us fulfillment and reveal God’s power through us.  God’s grace is sufficient for all of us.  So do not worry about your life, as Jesus reminds us, God our Heavenly Father will provide for and sustain you and reveal His power through your weakness.

[1] 2 Corinthians 12:10 NAB
[2]Genesis 2:15