A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Both of today’s readings confront us with the experience of bitter failure by godly men. Isaiah (49:1-6) expresses himself with eloquent, devastating simplicity:

I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nought,
and in vain…

In the Gospel (from John 13), Peter hears the bitter words that prophesy what will be the most grievous failure of his life:

Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice.

If the greatest of prophets and the chief of the apostles can fail so miserably, who are we to think we can always succeed? Who are we to disparage others who fail? Who are we to despair when we ourselves fail?

Then I said,
I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nought,
and in vain:

yet surely my judgment is with the LORD,
and my work with my God.

Failure, of course, is not 'a good thing,' but earthly failure and the prospect of failure should remind us of two critical lessons:

First, we may triumph in our fields of endeavor for a day, but ultimately we cannot succeed without the help of God’s grace. Indeed, the more we become conscious, obedient, and active instruments of God’s grace according to God’s will, the greater and more eternal our success will be (ad majorem Dei gloriam).

Second, although failure and weakness are things best to be avoided, even in bad things such as these, God’s wondrous power can accomplish unimaginable goodness.

And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 2:9a

This week, we celebrate the greatest and most empowering example of this truth: as rejection and infamy, unrelenting torture and a cry of despair, a publicly displayed corpse and a borrowed grave all lead by the power of God to resurrection and eternal salvation in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We should not fear. We must never despair. We must take advantage of every failure (and every success) to draw closer to Christ and to become more conscious, obedient, and active instruments of his wondrous grace.