Sunday, August 21, 2016
Is there anything that makes less sense than finding something positive in weakness? In the WithBible magazine an article by a priest examines the issue and gives the readers some thoughts to reflect on and make their own.
In the New Testament. the word weakness (astheneia) as a verb and adjective appears 83 times and 44 are in the letters of St. Paul. Usually, the word is used to signify some bodily ailment but in Paul's writing it has a special theological meaning that becomes a theme in his writing. This understanding of the word weakness is seen clearly in First Corinthians chapters one and two and Second Corinthians ten to thirteen; the reason St. Paul is called the apostle of weakness.
The Cross either makes this clear for some or hides it from others. Words, he says, are of little use: “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know” (Lao-tzu). And yet no matter how difficult and crazy it sounds the need is there to speak. We are strong when weak for God's power is active in us.
In our worldly common sense: knowledge is power. He gives us the example of the Oriental and Asian Studies Research Center where this was on the wall at the entrance of their building in London, England. Back in 1916, England felt they were not keeping abreast on the knowledge of the Orient (Asia) which they needed to administer their colonies and began the study of Asia-- (Orientalism). Knowledge was power and a help in managing their colonies.The Irony is that even at present, those from Asia often go to Europe to learn more about Asia.
The reality is that knowledge of another enables one to control the other and to efficiently get results. Information is needed on those we want to control. We call these places Intelligence Agencies. In our daily use of words: 'wisdom', knowledge, information all go to make for power: control, management, and rule. In a word, it is to increase the power of the those possessing it, and they become the center from which all goes out.
There is, however, another wisdom and power which we call God's foolishness and powerlessness. This is concern for the other, going out to the other, being for the other. It is not to gain power for it is seen as an obstacle: not to become strong but weak, to be vulnerable. In the eyes of the world this is crazy talk and stupidity.
Paul found the cross: the foolishness of God was wiser and God's weakness stronger than our own wisdom and power. He concludes the article with two questions: When there is love between two persons, there is going to be one loving more than the other, who is the weaker? We say that God is love, in God's love for us who is the weaker?