‘When I am weak, I am strong’. Isn’t that a lie, a sweet lie? It sounds good, sounds holy, but it hides the fact that this world is run by the strong for the strong—and the weak, the weak have to get by with the crumbs from the strong man’s table.
Who bears the brunt of global warming but the starving poor of Africa? Who carries the cost of storm and hurricane but the weak that can’t get out of the way? Who pays the price of heat and cold but the old and neglected?
In this world to be weak is to be out of the game. In this world to be weak is to be collateral damage. In this world to be weak is to be inadvertent victim.
And in this world when God becomes human God goes all the way. If God is in this world God is where the weak are. That’s the scandal of our belief: when God comes to make terms with us God doesn’t come in strength, in show, in shock and awe, God comes in weakness. God knows no other way.
And I for one wish God would change his mind – because Paul is telling the truth after all. Whose side am I on? If I am going to be alongside God I can only be weak no matter how stupid it is, no matter how I hate it. And that’s what it means to be prophetic – content with weakness and insults and hardships and persecutions and agonies because God is too. It’s prophetic because it scares the strong to the bottom of their souls. What if our politics put the poor first not last? What if our business gave back more than it took? What if our advertising told the truth? What if our religion made the outcast at home?
What a stupid way to live! What a stupid way for God to live!
Part of me is thinking – ‘well, it’s alright for God, playing at weakness and getting away scot-free… that God doesn’t have to really feel the pain and defeat and damage of being weak.’ But that is what we celebrate here every time we eat this bread and drink this cup – that God knows the pain and the defeat and the damage from the inside, to the end, the way we do. And still God chooses it. And still God chooses us.
Loved this. I did this reading at Mass and was very moved by it. Our priest finished by saying God is very close when we experience our weakness. If only I could remember this!
What if our politics put the poor first not last? What if our business gave back more than it took? What if our advertising told the truth? What if our religion made the outcast at home?
have you read Foolishness to the Greeks by Leslie Newbigin? in some ways it speaks of how to work toward this, though I don’t undestand it well.
Crystal: No, I haven’t read Newbegin’s book. I might give it a look. I’m torn between the practicality and impracticality of God’s politics. Is the Gospel always to be on the edge or can it be brought to the centre and made into a communal way of life in the world?
There are such bad examples of religion combined with politics that it’s hard to imagine how it could work out well, but on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine everything turning out ok, and us not destroying ourselves or the planet, without a society run on God based ethics … maybe the tension between these two ways, and not either way itsself, carries some answer?
Seems to me that if we start to compromise on this one we but right into the prevailing standards where the world belong to the pushy, the successful and the weak – or even those who shout less loudly – go to the wall. I don’t want a God who colludes with this. Today’s Gospel gives us a Jesus who is rejected and it is this Jesus we ask to follow more closely and, even though I say “ouch”, this Jesus is more attractive than he would be if he were giving me the opposite message – “I want you to be strong, powerful successful.”
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