“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:21
If you are confused by Paul’s reading today, don’t be. The mystery inside of a mystery is where we start our meditation today.
What St. Paul is describing, in an especially vivid and memorable manner, is what the unbelievers and naysayers of our world saw as the foolishness of the Gospel. Remember, many of Paul’s contemporaries rejected the idea of salvation in the crucified Christ. According to them, any God who would die on a cross in an act of redemption for the sins of humanity is a weak and foolish God. Paul is assuring us of exactly the opposite. The message of the Gospel is that God has gifted us salvation in Christ, our source of comfort, strength, and yes, wisdom.
For some the Gospel will always represent foolishness. But we know that the most humble have been the strongest witnesses of salvation in Christ. Think of the saints—even Paul himself who was once a persecutor of Christians but was transformed to preach the Gospel at great personal cost. Think of the faithful in your own life, the role models who grew in strength and grace, deepening your own faith.
The Cross is our paschal mystery. Like Christ we must go through death in order to arrive at the resurrection. This is the ultimate message of our faith. Life does not end at death. This may be a step too far for the unbelievers. But for Paul—and for us—it’s the rock and foundation of our faith. We trust in life over death, in strength over weakness, in belief over skepticism. The wisdom of God is simple: By giving ourselves up for others—a reflection of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross—we are fulfilling our calling to be God-like ourselves. To be missioners.
Friend, one last thought: The temple in today’s Gospel is a metaphor for Christ’s resurrection… the removal of sin that is worthy of redemption and new life. Whatever society may do—and whenever our egos may lead us away from God— we still have the promise of life over death, eternity over impermanence, wisdom over foolishness. A lot to think about on the Third Sunday of Lent. Our journey continues.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for Third Sunday of Lent
Lord God of power and weakness
help me discover You in the poor
no less than in the powerful.
You strengthen the weak and
empower the poor to cast off
chains of oppression and hardship.
You cast down the mighty from their thrones.
Grant I never follow anyone more than You
and listen to Your word before all others.
Jesus, You gave up the safety and security
of heaven to dwell here on earth to be with us,
live with us, teach us and show us the way that
leads to You and the fullness of life.
Be the light that reveals Your will
and guide us along the right path
of justice, peace, and mercy.
May my Lenten sacrifices and offerings
be for the glory of Your Name and
the sanctification of my brothers and sisters.
Help me recognize Your suffering in the
those I meet for whom life has become
a burden and not a blessing.
May You be revealed this day
in human weakness and diminishment.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso