We need to remind ourselves of the importance of prayer for we often think of it as a last ditch effort after all our own efforts have failed. Pope Benedict recently gave us some good advice about the importance of prayer when he talked about today’s second reading from Chapter 12 of St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. As we reflect on his words, let us offer the prayers of this day for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions.
First, what is the weakness of which St. Paul speaks? What is this “thorn” in his flesh? We don’t know, and he doesn’t say, but his attitude makes us understand that all the difficulties we meet in following Christ and witnessing to his Gospel can be overcome by opening ourselves in faith to the Lord’s action. …St. Paul understands clearly how to face and live every event, especially suffering, difficulty and persecution: when he experiences his own weakness, the power of God is manifested, which neither abandons us nor leaves us alone but which becomes our support and strength.
Certainly, Paul would have preferred to be delivered from this “thorn”, from this suffering; but God says: “No, this is necessary for you. You shall have grace sufficient to resist and to do what must be done”. This is true also for us. The Lord may not deliver us from evil, but he helps us to mature through suffering, difficulty and persecution. … Therefore, as our union with the Lord grows and our prayer intensifies, we too come to focus on the essential, and we understand that it is not through the power of our resources, our virtue, or our abilities that the Kingdom of God shall come; rather, it is God who works marvels precisely through our weakness, through our inadequacy for the task at hand. We must therefore have the humility not to trust in ourselves alone but to work -- with the Lord’s help -- in the Lord’s vineyard, entrusting ourselves to Him as fragile “earthen vessels”.
In prayer, then, we open our souls to the Lord so that he might come and abide in our weakness, transforming it in strength for the Gospel. …In a world in which we risk trusting only in the efficiency and power of human resources, in this world we are called to rediscover and bear witness to the power of God that is communicated through prayer, and by which we grow each day in greater conformity of our lives to Christ’s, who – he affirms – “was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4).