Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Today’s second reading is perhaps some of the most personal testimony in all of the Christian Scriptures. St. Paul tells us how he had a “thorn in the flesh,” something—and we don’t know exactly what this was—which reminded Paul constantly of his need for God. Was it a physical ailment, an emotional difficulty, some sin or failing? Whatever it was, Paul didn’t like it! He prayed that it might leave him.
God’s answer to that prayer? Simply that God’s grace would be enough to see Paul through. Paul learned from this personal experience how to accept this weakness, how to allow it to be a moment where the power of God would instead take over.
I don’t know about you, but I find this reading very comforting. I’m no saint, that’s for sure. But if a real saint, like Paul, can “boast of his weakness,” and can openly admit to it, and to how he begged God to take it away, then I find in Paul’s story a way to deal with my own sinfulness, my own weakness.
I like the way Paul’s experience gave him a way to look at all the things that happened to him—“weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints,” he says. So maybe there’s hope for the rest of us, as well, to discover a similar insight, with God’s help.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading, what message did the Lord give to Ezekiel?
What does the Lord say about the Israelites? Does the Lord seem pleased with them?
Whether they obey the Lord or not, what will the Israelites learn?
According to the second reading, why did God give Paul a “thorn in the flesh?”
When Paul complains, what is the Lord’s response?
What does Paul mean when he says “. . .when I am weak, then I am strong?”
What was Jesus’s home place, according to this week's Gospel?
When Jesus went to the synagogue on the sabbath day what questions did the local folks raise?
How did Jesus feel about their questions?
Could Jesus work any “mighty deed” there in his native place?
Think of one of your talents or some information you know and offer to share it with your family or friends, just like Jesus did in today's Gospel.
Do you know what some of your weaknesses are? Take some time to think or write about them and how you can perhaps overcome some of them.