A Father's Note
So, what is 'A Father's Note'?
'A Father's Note' is a weekly word of encouragement from our spiritual fathers here at MPB! It could be something from a homily, daily prayer, personal experience or other! It will last for the week until the next message is released.
It's purpose is to help and encourage YOU throughout your busy and stressful week!
Note for the Week
"Grateful for the revelation"
"I would like to reflect this weekend on the second reading from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. He is doing something quite dramatic in this short excerpt of his letter that has relevancy to our own time and also can be easily overlooked. First, he acknowledges that he has received many revelations. Just like the prophets spoken of in the first reading from Ezekiel, Paul also has been given a great commission. He is well aware that being gifted by God and called by name, can make one become proud or even corrupted by that pride. We can certainly see this ourselves. Some preachers of the Gospel bear great affliction and even martyrdom for their proclamation as did St. Paul. Others acquire vast wealth, prestige, and homes that most of us would envy. Is there something wrong with this picture? Paul does not lament the 'thorn in his flesh.' We have no idea what it may have been. We do know that Paul welcomed it as a means of remaining humble before the gift of the revelations, as well as thankful for them. He would be appalled by the "health and prosperity" Gospel that too many fall for. It is certainly not the Gospel of Christ.
In the Church we have seen too much of how the gifts, when not accepted with gratitude and humility, can also make some proud and bring about corruption. This is certainly not a comfortable thing to approach but it cannot be ignored either. Some who have received the gifts, be they of good preaching skills, ordination, positions of power and influence, grow comfortable with the status they then receive. Without gratitiude and humility before the gift - and recognizing all as gift - it can be easy to forget what we're all about. Some will accumulate a life style totally incompatible with the Gospel call to simplicity, others will laud it over others through the misuse of authority, still others believing they are now above the law of both God and State, think they can pursue every and any desire they want fulfilled. There are many reasons why the given gifts and honors are abused, but St. Paul is clearly on to one of them.
Once we forget that we are about Christ first and foremost, everything else can and oftentimes does collapse. Too many are about the institution of the Church rather than its faith. Still others stroke their ego when recognized for their talents. Worse is the attitude of entitlement that some believe is owed them due to position or title. The Church, by Christ's design, needs clergy and hierarchy. It is essential that we remember 'by Christ's design,' not ours.
St. Paul could freely welcome 'the thorn in his flesh' not because he was a masochist of some kind. He had the unfortunate opportunity to see preachers of the Gospel even in his own time, cause scandal through false teaching and bad behavior. He had the honesty to recognize that he was not above anyone else. He needed that thorn in the flesh to remind him that it is Christ whom he serves.
Paul without doubt had authority in the Church. He was wise to recognize that his authority was at the service of Christ and others. Even when his preaching was at times fiery, it was to bring people out of the shadows of existence and into the light and life of Christ.
The challenge of St. Paul this day - and it must be carried with us every day - is not to fear or despise the 'thorn in the flesh' that any of us may be dealing with or may at some point come our way. The thorn can come in many guises. It is meant to keep us humble, to recognize that this world is passing away, that we should seek the things above and not the fleeting things below, to spur us on to greater forgetfulness of self and to more generous care of others. The thorn for Paul not only kept him humble and grateful. It was, through those virtues, life giving. It can be the same for us if we think with the wisdom of Paul and the mind of Christ."
- Father John Maduri