16 August 2015

When only Weakness and Incapacity are Enough

[[Hi Sister Laurel, you wrote a paragraph about Jesus recently but I am not sure which post it was in. Would you mind reposting it here all by itself? It was about him being stripped of all his individual gifts and talents so God could be the entire source of his honor, and value. I thought it was excellent --- and was intrigued by the idea that Jesus' miracles were not enough!]]

Sure, I think I have only written one paragraph on Jesus in the past week or so; here is the one I remember. It fits what you describe. I have broken it in two to make it a bit easier to read. I have written before about Jesus' miracles (in the NT these are really called "works (or acts) of power") not being enough to bring about the reconciliation of all reality so that God might be all in all. cf Madman or Messiah?

What stands out in light of this paragraph and the events of the cross (and the life of Maximillian Kolbe too) is that the greatest thing we can offer the world is our own emptiness made precious and transfigured by the presence of God. When acts of power aren't enough our own emptiness, weakness, and incapacity can be. Another way of thinking of this is that our own stripping and emptiness are themselves the greatest gift we bring, the basis of anything truly miraculous. God can and does work through these more powerfully and exhaustively than he can through anything else. That's one reason Paul says, "My [God's] grace is sufficient for you. My [God's] power is made perfect in weakness." This is, perhaps the Gospel's greatest paradox and the reason at Easter we sing, "O happy fault".

"The Paragraph" (From On Bringing our Entire Availability)

[[When we think of Jesus we see a man whose tremendous potential and capacity for ministry, teaching, preaching, simple availability and community, was stripped away. In part this happened through the circumstances of his birth because he was shamed in this and was seen as less capable of honorable contributions or faithfulness. In part it was because he was a carpenter's son, someone who worked with his hands and was therefore thought of as less intellectually capable. In part it was because he was more and more isolated from his own People and Religion and assumed a peripatetic life with no real roots or sources of honor --- except of course from the One he called Abba.

And in part it was because even his miracles and preaching were still insufficient to achieve the transformation of the world, the reconciliation of all things with God so that God might one day truly be all in all. Gradually (or not so gradually once his public ministry began) Jesus was stripped of every individual gift or talent until, nailed to a cross and too physically weak and incapable of anything else, when he was a failure as his world variously measured success, [or shamed and dishonored as his culture variously measured dignity and honor] the ONLY thing he could "do" or be was open to whatever God would do to redeem the situation. THIS abject emptiness, which was the measure of his entire availability to God and also to us (!), was the place and way he became truly and fully transparent to his Abba. It also made the effectiveness of his ministry and mission global or even cosmic in scope]] as it fully transformed him from Jesus of Nazareth to being the Christ of Faith.