A man was drinking in a bar one night. After he got drunk, he decided it was time to go home. He got up from his chair but fell. He tried again to get up, but he fell. Then he decided to crawl to the door before walking home. When he got to the door, he tried to stand up but he fell. Since he was living a couple of blocks away, he decided to crawl home. At his door, he used the wall as support to stand up and open the door. After he opened and closed the door, he fell. He then crawled gently to the couch to avoid waking his wife up.

The next morning, his wife angrily woke him up, saying, “So you went drinking last night!” He swore that he had not been to the bar in years. His wife said, “Well, the bar owner just called the house phone now and said you had left your wheel chair there last night.”

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, sin touched, weakened, and deformed human nature. As human beings, we are unable to judge perfectly; our efforts sometimes do not yield the required results. Even when we succeed, our success is short-lived. But in the midst of our struggles, we are not alone. God, who is all-loving and ever-loving, does not abandon us in our fallen state. He extends a hand to help us rise above our fallen state, this divine help, this beacon of hope, is what we call divine grace.

However, God does not impose the grace on us. In his love for us, God gives us the freedom to choose whether to accept this divine help or not. The grace of God is like the wheel chair of the man in our opening story. Because he was drunk, he forgot about his disability, which also made him to forget about his wheel chair. As a consequence, he crawled home. As human beings, when we become drunk with pride, we forget our human limitations, we begin to think we call the shots, we abandon divine grace, and we suffer untold consequences. How often do we, in our pride, forget about the divine grace that is always available to us?

In today’s second reading, the Church gives us St. Paul as an example of a person who, though conscious of his competence, was not unaware of his human weaknesses. Paul acknowledged that he had the gift of the abundance of revelations but also had a weakness, which he called “a thorn in the flesh.” Many scholars have given various suggestions on what the thorn was. Whatever it was, Paul saw it as a weakness, which he begged God three times to take away from him. But in response, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul then shifted his focus from the weakness to the grace and power of Christ, which made him victorious in his earthly life and ministry. Paul was not like the drunk man who denied his disability and his wheel chair and consequently crawled home.

My dearly beloved in Christ, our victory begins when we acknowledge our weaknesses. In the Church, Jesus provides us with many channels of grace in the Sacraments, the sacramental, the community, our friends, our families, our conscience, and the various ways he makes himself present to us. But he does not impose them on us. There are times that God may decide to take our weaknesses away, but there are other times, like in St. Paul’s case, that God may decide to show his power through our weakness; then he says, “My grace is enough for you.” Let us pray that whatever stumbling block God permits to be in our way may become stepping stones that will lead us to a greater level of victory and success until we come to our heavenly inheritance through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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