Clio was a woman who struggled with a weight all her life. Recently through exercise and dieting she had lost 75 pounds. Her friends and co- workers were so proud of her. Then one morning she came walking into the office with a half-eaten box of a dozen donuts. One of her co-workers said, “Clio, you were doing so well. What happened?” Clio answered, “It’s like this. As I was driving to work today, there was a detour. I realized that it was going to take me right by the bakery. So I said to myself, ‘If God wants me to have donuts, there will be a parking space right in front of the bakery….’ And there was …. the 6th time around the block.”
In my thirty-six years as a priest I have heard thousands of confessions. In all these years I have learned that what is true of me is also true of virtually everyone else. Every Christian seems to have at least one sin, one weakness that is something they struggle with their entire lives. I am not going to tell you mine. Nor am I going to ask you name yours, but I bet you can……….. This is where today’s second reading comes in. It make three great points to remember.
- First, know that we are in good company, if like most Christians we have one sin that is a life-long struggle. Saint Mary of Egypt, Saint Augustine, and a great many men and women who have been named saints had the same experience. When St. Paul speaks about a thorn in his flesh, he is likely talking about a sin that he constantly had to struggle with. Paul was courageous, brilliant, wise, and filled with unparalleled faith. But like us, he had one sin he struggled with.
- Second, know that something positive can come from our struggle just as it did for St. Paul. He was grateful for that thorn in his flesh because it kept him from becoming proud. It humbled him like our struggle humbles us. It also helped him realize that he had to depend on God. God had to do for him what he could not do for himself. Perhaps, his experience helped him be more compassionate and understanding of others in their struggles.
- Finally, don’t ever give up the struggle. When we quit trying to avoid temptations to sin,, the struggle gets worse, never better. Jesus says what others in the Bible, and holy men and women down through the centuries declared as well. “With God, all things are possible.” Know that God’s grace can and does make a difference …….IF…………… we don’t drive around the block 6 times.