Year A: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians ch. 2: 1-5
Most of us would sympathise with St Paul in today’s reading. How many of us talk about our faith with confidence? How many of us identify with Paul’s feelings of weakness - and fear and trembling when, for example, we say we are a Catholic - or ask for time off to go to Mass. How many of us, in fact, opt out and choose to say and do nothing?
So, it is comforting to think that, after a hard time in Athens, that great apostle St Paul felt just as we so often do when we have to talk about faith and religion.
What Paul learnt from his experience was that it was his very weakness that allowed God to work most powerfully through him. He could no rely on persuasive arguments like professional philosophers could. He was, after all, working as a tent-maker at the time - and such arguments from a tradesman would have impressed no-one. The professionals would have dismissed him as beneath them - his fellow-workers would probably have thought he was either mad or too good for the likes of them and stopped listening.
Obviously, Paul had brought something extraordinary to his words - or allowed God to do extraordinary things with them.
And it is this that Paul refers to as the power of the Spirit.
He does not put on a great show - but speaks of the only thing he knows to speak of - God’s promise as it was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He does not say so here, but it would seem likely that, in the beginning, he would probably have liked to use impressive words and powerful arguments - and perhaps that was the lesson God had helped him to learn in Athens - that they don’t always work!
Instead, Paul had learnt that to speak the truth “quietly and clearly” does more good than imposing something through fear or hard-sell.
Working alongside other people - gathering with people in their homes - and speaking about Jesus with conviction and confidence in the end won him more converts.
This is something we can do - and gradually gain confidence from. Working alongside others - answering their questions simply - being true to ourselves - all these things make a favourable impression - and encourage people to want to know more. Not everyone will respect us it’s true - but something we say - something we do - might be the thing that makes a difference for someone.
What does it mean for me?
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