Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding God's Strength in My Weakness

Finding God’s Strength in My Weakness

          For quite a while now I’ve found myself in the middle of a tense relationship between two extended family members.  Recently the situation has escalated and because of my relationship to both of these people it is very hard for me to be unaffected.  As time goes on it becomes clearer that one person is principally at fault, though of course it’s never only one person’s fault.
          Here is my dilemma: one of the two is a practicing Catholic and the other is not.  I have given advice numerous times to the Catholic, but her efforts are not being reciprocated.  I am wary about engaging the other since he has not asked my opinion and I am concerned, because religion is already a touchy subject, that he will think I am moralizing or picking on him, and use it as another reason to dismiss Christianity.
          It sounds like a rather juvenile situation, and I suppose it is, but I suspect many people will find it familiar.  Everyone who is in a family, especially one including in-laws, experiences the perils of being put in the middle of family feuds, large or small.  And anyone interested in witnessing to Christ, especially among those who have fallen away from the Faith and are defensive about it, knows it can be very delicate.
          This was on my mind one morning recently as I was praying before Mass.  Providentially, the priest, in his homily, somehow spoke to exactly what I needed to hear.
          He said, “All we have to do is be kind to people in truth.  We don’t even have to worry about how.  God will take care of that when the time comes if we keep our minds on Him.  It really will all be all right if we put it in Jesus’s Hands.”
          I realized I had been walking on egg shells for so long and strategizing about how to approach this person in an attempt to help heal the rift without driving him away, that I began to dwell on the situation, and my frustration with it, and pretty soon that turned to my frustration with him, and anger, and judgment, and the rest.
          Somehow I wasn’t able to just put it in Jesus’s Hands and trust that all things work for the good of those who love Him.  This priest helped me to understand that I didn’t need to dwell on what I should say or how I should say it (not that some preparation would necessarily be totally unwise); what I needed to dwell on was the Heart of Christ.  If I can do that, and fashion my own heart after His, He will give me the Grace to be an authentic witness, and provide the words I need when I need them.
          I realized also that I have to give this situation more specifically to God in prayer.  One important way that we sometimes forget we can do that is by “offering it up.”
          There is a story, true as far as I know, of a priest who was visiting Pope John Paul II.  He had a broken arm that he had injured in a skiing accident.  He knew the pope was fond of skiing so he thought he would ask for a blessing for his healing.  When he asked, Pope John Paul gave him the blessing but also this admonition, “Do not waste your suffering.”
          As Catholics we have the most complete answer to the problem of suffering.  We know we can unite our suffering to Christ’s on the Cross and offer it as a most powerful prayer.
          So I will be offering my struggles with a particularly annoying imperfection to God as a prayer for this relationship in my family and in so doing, I can pray without ceasing as St. Paul instructs, and trust also, as he says, that in my weakness is God’s Strength.  And most of all, I will try to keep my eyes on Jesus so that when the time comes, He can speak words of healing through me, in truth and in charity.