What is Your Strength?
by Cynthia James – Catholic Exchange
We all have strengths; they have been given to us by God. Do we know what they are? I bet if you were asked what your weaknesses were, you would have an easier time identifying and listing them then you have identifying your strengths. But really folks, we should know our strengths at least as much as we know our weaknesses. Why? Well not so that we can become proud and brag about them but so that we know that we have them at our disposal to help us overcome our weaknesses and so that we can put them at the Lord’s disposal in building up His Kingdom. And there is another reason, which we will come back to after looking at our scripture readings for a bit. Our first reading gives us a snapshot of the story of Ezrah and Nehemiah.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Their story in the scripture captures that part of the Jewish history from the end of the Babylonian Captivity to the restoration of Jerusalem, including the rebuilding of its walls. Today’s reading describes the historic scene of the priest Ezra reading the sacred Law to the people for the first time in generations. Imagine the emotions that must have been present in the hearts of the faithful that were present there. Now fast forward to the Gospel scene in which Jesus, still very much at the beginning of His public ministry unrolls the scroll of Isaiah and reads these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
My guess is that the emotions of the people hearing these words of Jesus were very similar to those who heard Ezra reading the words of the Law hundreds of years before. Both were occasions that were marked by feelings of freedom, joy, heeling and restoration. Yet we are told that many were brought to tears as they heard the words of the Law being read Why were they tears of joy? Perhaps, but maybe as people heard the words of the Law, they realized how much they feel short from it in living their lives. I bet there were the same kinds of tears in the synagogue when Jesus read those words from Isaiah as well. Those words reminded them that in their lives they experienced many imperfections, many weaknesses. They were enslaved, they were oppressed, they were afflicted. They needed to be healed, to be freed, to be restored. But Nehemiah and Jesus reminded them that despite their many weaknesses they were strong. And the same is true with us. We need to be able to see our strengths up against our weaknesses as we said before. But even more than that, we need to see our strengths, so that we can begin to see our greatest strength-who is the Lord Himself. And rejoicing in the Lord, must be our greatest strength.
“The Joy of the Lord will be my Strength” – PSALM 35:9