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...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

You are the strong one

There was a film many years ago, based on a book, about a young man traumatized by the sudden deaths of two people who were very close to him.

The first was his older brother - the star of the family, whom he had looked up to - who died in a boating accident that he, the younger brother, survived.

The second was a girl he had met in a hospital while both were recovering from suicide attempts. They had come to rely upon each other in that place. They would meet again after being released and she seemed to be doing better than he was, but when he went to call her again, she had killed herself.

“She was fine!” he screamed to his psychiatrist shortly after hearing the news. “No,” the doctor said firmly. “No, she wasn’t.”

In that dramatic, cathartic conversation, the young man would come to realize that those other people, whom he had loved and to whom he had looked up to, had not really been as strong as he had thought.

Did it ever occur to you, the psychiatrist said, that maybe YOU were the strong one?


In our lives of faith, you and I have people that we look up to and people we rely on. It is a good and natural and even holy thing.

But every once in a while, one of them – a person of faith that we looked up to, a person of faith that we relied on – falls.

God help me, we may think, if someone who was so learned in the faith could leave it like that, what hope do I have?

If someone who was so articulate in the faith and so brave in devotion could slip and betray solemn vows and promises, what hope do I have?

To paraphrase our Lord’s words to Peter at the end of John’s Gospel: What about him? Your business is to follow me.

As we know well from Scripture and from the experience of our lives, human strength and human wisdom are no guarantee of anything, most especially when it comes to matters of the Spirit.

Our focus always needs to be on the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: not on the strength or wisdom of any man or woman.

We most certainly dare not rely upon our own wisdom or strength: everyone - from the wisest theologian to the most charitable saint - everyone relies upon the undeserved gift of God’s grace: grace that comes to us through the Sacraments, through prayer, through God’s word, and through the instrumentality of others.

No one is superman: not you and certainly not me.

Jesus Christ is the true superman. He is the strong one, the holy one, the most high, the Lord.

We must pray for our brothers and sisters, great and small, who struggle with faith, with commitments, and even with living a moral life.

We must also pray for ourselves and come before the Lord even more humbly, asking him to purify us and strengthen us so that by his grace we may follow him with deeper love, truth, and hope.