Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Corinthians 12, 1-10

I am boasting because I have to. Not that it does any good, but I will move on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -- still in the body? I do not know; or out of the body? I do not know: God knows -- was caught up right into the third heaven.

And I know that this man -- still in the body? or outside the body? I do not know, God knows-

was caught up into Paradise and heard words said that cannot and may not be spoken by any human being.

On behalf of someone like that I am willing to boast, but I am not going to boast on my own behalf except of my weaknesses;

and then, if I do choose to boast I shall not be talking like a fool because I shall be speaking the truth. But I will not go on in case anybody should rate me higher than he sees and hears me to be, because of the exceptional greatness of the revelations.

Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself.

About this, I have three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me;

but he has answered me, 'My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness.' It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me;

and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ's sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul starts the second part of his defence. If in the previous passage Paul spoke of his privileges of ethnicity and religion, and enumerated the long list of sufferings endured for the Gospel, he now refers to the very heart by his missionary zeal. This is a crucial passage of the letter. Paul reveals an extraordinary spiritual experience without delineating the content that he has not even fully understood. It is strange that the apostle does not speak in the first person anymore, but of “a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows”(v.2). He does not describe in detail the experience which he has not even fully understood. What seems clear is that the apostle was, as it were, dispossessed of himself. It is no longer the ”I” who speaks but indeed ”a man in Christ.” The mysterious encounter with Jesus changed him deeply. In another passage Paul will say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The Christian is precisely on this path, that of the identification in Christ. It is a spiritual journey that continues for our entire life. But it is the only way to arrive at a full and saved life which is nothing other than communion with Christ. At this point the apostle splits his defence. He boasts about the man who allowed himself to be seized by Christ, “but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses” (v.5). The Apostle then reveals to the Corinthians a personal experience of weakness that was disturbing him: the “thorn” (or maybe better a “rod”) in the “flesh.” We do not know exactly what the apostle refers to, but the consequences must have been so hard that three times he asked the Lord to be freed of it. Paul, however, received God’s answer that allowed him to build his life not on his own wisdom and strength, but on the power that comes from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness “(v.9). Indeed, the apostle discovered, precisely in the weakness of his life in service of the Gospel, that the strength of the Lord was manifested. This is a great spiritual and pastoral lesson often, sadly, completely rejected. So many times in our lives weakness and difficulty become a reason to withdraw from the Gospel or constitute a justification for not being committed. But it is precisely in weakness that the disciple discovers the extraordinary strength of the Lord and of his grace. Indeed, in the scarcity of our resources and weakness of our abilities, that we can experience the power of faith. Faith even if it is as small as a grain of mustard performs miracles, even to moving mountains. Together with the apostle we should say more often: “For whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (v.10).