Don’t Waste Your Weakness

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29 January 2018

God turns your weakness into your purpose. Today’s Gospel lays this challenge before the Church: to allow God to turn your weaknesses into your strengths.

The Gospel is the longest episode of Mark’s Gospel, and it offers us a glimpse into Christ’s purpose to bring salvation to humanity. The graphical, terrifying depiction of the possessed man allows us to see the face of humanity that strays from God. This image of self-destructiveness and isolation, living in the depths of death amongst the tombs, with no one strong enough to bind him.

All it took to overcome such darkness was an encounter with Christ. Jesus’ confrontation led the demons to beg to enter a herd of pigs nearby, resulting in a stampede and their death. Upon reading the scripture, this imagery can be troubling. Why is Jesus not more troubled by the death of 2000 animals? What about the loss of livestock and livelihood for the farmers? Or the pollution of the waterways? These concerns are entirely reasonable… which makes the response of the people in the region even more incredible.

The value they placed on the transformation of man was worth more than even their livelihood. What they saw was a man, changed by an encounter. What they saw was the true authority, spoken into existence by the Word of God. What they saw was a once raging, self-ravaging outcast who sits in peace, the image of humanities salvation. This transformation is what Jesus brings to humanity, a peace that rises above the chaos.

This scripture finishes where it began; with an interaction between the man and Jesus. This time, the man is seeking to become a disciple of Christ. While Jesus doesn’t give him what he wants, at face value, he gives him something far greater: his purpose. The mission to go and share his encounter with Christ, and the transformation that resulted, defines his existence. A door for the mission to the wider world has been opened, and the man runs through it proclaiming Christ to all he encounters.

So, what does this scripture mean for your life? It means that everyone can have a place in Christ’s narrative. You may have aspects of your own life and characters reflected in the possessed man. Maybe it is the feeling of living in isolation or by some self-destructive patterns of behaviour that you can’t escape. But it is through these weaknesses that you can encounter God, and allow him to take those parts of your life and turn them into your strengths. This is the liberation that God offers humanity through Jesus. This is the power of the cross that the Christian faithful can draw on.

Don’t waste your weakness: make it your strength.

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