19 Jun 2015
The Church here in America is focused a lot on the idea of “success.” And, of course, we want to be successful in the mission that Christ has given to us. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s good to have that kind of focus and determination. But here again in Scripture we’re reminded of how to gauge our success—as a community of the faithful, and as individuals.
St. Paul says that “if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” Paul’s inadequacies are where he finds his measure of “success;” because in his weaknesses, his absolute need for God is made all the clearer. In his weakness, Paul realizes how indispensable the love and mercy of God is to him.
And so, his admission of weakness is the measure of “success” for him. That’s what he boasts in. He hasn’t become so focused of his own accomplishments and abilities that he forgets about his reliance God. And, in a way, that goes against our normal way of thinking about “success.” St. Paul seems to exhort us to measure our success as a Church and as individuals not by how the world defines success, but by how he defines success.
Usually we try to measure our success as a parish in terms of numbers (and there is something to that, of course). But what if we started to measure our success by seeing how many of us can say: “I’m a sinner, and I know I need God in my life.” And not only that, but how many people can say this as a boast? Now there’s a measure of success in our life of faith—the deep realization that by ourselves we are weak—we need God in our lives.
When Jesus tells us to store up treasures in heaven, this is one of those treasures—the truth of our weakness, the admission that we are dependent upon God. And that kind of weakness and dependence is, for us Christians, the real measure of success. If we ever forget that, we only need to look at the Cross and see Christ crucified: weak, vulnerable, dependent on the Father.
Christ came to call sinners. He came to call the weak. And so, let’s boast in our weakness; let’s boast in the fact that we’re sinners—so that God can lift us up, so that God can bring us real “success.”