Power Made Perfect in Weakness

Love Matters are wisdom words from Fr. Thomas Keating spoken during the filming of the new series God is Love: The Heart of All Creation. Some are included in the series; others are from footage published here for the first time. A new word will be posted every Monday throughout the year. May they serve to inspire hope and lift your heart.

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So, it’s this breadth of view which can be experienced in one’s creaturehood, one’s nothingness, one’s weakness classically described by St. Paul in his experience. Perhaps that’s worth just referring to for a moment. 

There, he was telling – he’s confessing – I think it’s One [Two] Corinthians – his experience of ecstasy where he was drawn up into the third or fourth heaven and heard and saw things he couldn’t repeat and so on. And he came back to earth and then he was hit by some thorn of the flesh which he doesn’t say what it was. So he prays to God three times – three in Scripture always meaning with great intensity or as much as possible – to be delivered because he saw it might be interfering with his ministry and it was. So, God’s reply is interesting, “No, I’m not going to take this away because my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

So what this says is: then Paul goes on to glory in his infirmities, his weaknesses, whatever they were, we don’t know. But what is clear is that God was more concerned about Paul’s humility or the acceptance of his weakness and nothingness than about his issues and thus perhaps worried that this exultation – the spiritual kind – would interfere with his humility. So, God is more interested in our transformation, deification, because that’s our great contribution: to give God ourselves completely out of human nature or bearing the burden and accountability of being human with all its failures and faults.

El poder que se perfecciona en la debilidad

Es esta visión abarcadora la que puede experimentarse en nuestra condición de creaturas, en la propia condición de no ser nada, en nuestra debilidad, típicamente descripta por San Pablo en su experiencia. Quizá valga la pena referirnos a esto por un momento.

Allí, nos cuenta – nos confiesa – creo que es Corintos 1:2 – su experiencia de éxtasis, en la que es conducido al tercer o cuarto cielo y oye y ve cosas que no puede reproducir. Y vuelve a la tierra y luego se le clava alguna espina en su carne que no dice qué es. Entonces ora a Dios tres veces – tres en las Escrituras siempre significa con gran intensidad, o tanto como es posible – para que Dios lo libre de ella, porque ve que va a interferir con su ministerio, y efectivamente lo hace. La respuesta de Dios es interesante: “No, no te libraré de esto, porque mi poder se perfecciona en la debilidad.”

Lo que esto nos dice es que Pablo se glorifica en sus enfermedades, sus debilidades, cualesquiera que hayan sido ellas – no lo sabemos. Pero lo que está claro es que a Dios le importaba más la humildad de Pablo o la aceptación de su debilidad y su condición de no ser nada que sus otros temas, y quizá le preocupaba que su entusiasmo – de tipo espiritual – interfiriera con su humildad. Eso significa que Dios está más interesado en nuestra transformación, deificación, porque esa es nuestra gran contribución: entregarnos a Dios completamente en nuestra naturaleza humana, o soportar la carga y la responsabilidad de ser humanos con todas nuestras fallas y defectos.