First Published by Catholic Volunteer Network, February 14, 2016
One of my favorite places to go during this mission year is Regina House, a retirement home for religious sisters. Regina House is so special to me because it feels like going to grandma’s house, except there are a hundred loving grandmas, all consecrated to God. When I’m there, it’s easy to give and receive their love. What makes the Sisters so easy to love? I think it has to do with their surrender and weakness. At this stage in their lives, the retired Sisters have surrendered the care of many physical needs. These strong women spent their lives caring for others and now allow others to care for them. I’m sure that’s not easy. I know I sure do fight my weaknesses. And I think that makes me hard to love sometimes. When I was little I was easier to love. I was honest about my needs; I asked for help. I knew I needed love, so I would snuggle with my parents, unashamed. The truth is that the weakest among us are easier to love, because they claim their weaknesses, they don’t fight help.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus intentionally makes Himself physically weak. He chooses harsh conditions; the desert and fasting from food and water for forty whole days. Think about how thirsty you’d be after forty days? What is Jesus trying to tell us about weakness? I think he’s setting an example. Jesus wants us to know that it is our weaknesses, not our strengths that invite His love and care into our lives. I think He’s saying “If only you could see how beautiful your weaknesses are to me, you would give them to me wholeheartedly. I long to love you through your weaknesses, will you let me?”
Dear Jesus, You embraced Your weaknesses in the desert but You never struggled alone. Please show me how I can depend, as You did, on the Father for strength. Please show me how I can claim my weakness and offer them to You. Please grant me the graces necessary to open up to You in prayer about my struggles. Please teach me to reach out my hand to grasp yours, so that You can accompany me during my times of struggle. Please show me who I can talk to about my weaknesses, so that I journey with the strength You provide through community. Amen.
In order to grow spiritually and connect within our communities, we need to be able to talk about our weaknesses. Weaknesses are all the things we deem imperfections: our flaws, our struggles, even our sins. Jesus wants them all. It’s scary to tell someone your deepest weaknesses. But we need to. Hiding our weaknesses isolates us. Don’t forget that Jesus was never alone in the desert! His Father was with Him. And Jesus doesn’t want us to be alone either. How can you begin to talk and pray about your weaknesses? Could you journal about them to Jesus? Could you find a trusted friend, priest, or counselor? Start small, just write it down and give it to Jesus, ask for the grace to keep being open.
Visit the elderly, especially those who dedicated their lives to service, such as vets, retirement communities for religious, or anyone living in a retirement community or nursing home. Be a listening ear to those who are alone and isolated by age or disability, they just might listen to you as well.