Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinth. 1:26-31)
I hope you’ll bear with me here. This Sunday’s Mass readings are still on my mid, especially the one from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians above. A few thoughts:
1. To the “wise and learned” of the world, life with a disability or terminal illness is not worth living. When a child is pre-natally diagnosed with various diseases parents are pressured to abort and assisted suicide is promoted as a way to escape pain and suffering. Enter Garvan Byrne. Terminally ill and handicapped from birth, young Garvan endured intense pain as he faced certain death at the tender age of twelve. Throughout all of the trauma, however, he remained hopeful and optimistic, finding peace and meaning in life that most healthy, able-bodied adults have never seen. In 1985, just a two months before he died, eleven year old Garvan recorded an interview with Mother Francis Dominica, the founder of one of the hospices he often visited. It has been uploaded to YouTube in three parts. If can, do yourself a favor and set aside about 20 minutes to watch all three, you will not regret it.
I don’t think it matters how handicapped you are or how sick. You always succeed in something. God gave us each a gift. –Garvan Byrne March 20, 1973 – April 16, 1985
2. Abortion is the ultimate war against the weak and here I think of abortion survivors like Gianna Jessen and Melissa Ohden. How in their cases God used an infant, the very weakest among us, to show their would-be assassins who really has power over life and death. Not only that, but now both of them are very outspoken, internationally known pro-life speakers – Gianna with her “gift of Cerebral Palsy” on top of everything – and have challenged many who see nothing wrong with the stronger dominating the weaker and deciding who lives and who dies.
“I didn’t survive so I could make everyone comfortable. I survived so I could stir things up a bit. And I have a great time doing it.” -Gianna Jessen
Another must see: Gianna Jessen’s Australian Manifesto
3. We recently celebrated the feast of the Presentation of the Lord – when a 40-day-old infant is presented in the Temple and recognized as the Savior of the world. An infant Savior! The paradox of this also makes me think of Christ crucified and the foolishness and weakness of God that is wiser and stronger than men (1 Corinth. 1:23-25).
4. Finally: “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” These words of St. Paul, together with the beatitudes we heard from the Gospel according to Mark tell all of us to recognize our own weakness, the limits of our human nature, and have recourse to God, apart from Whom we can do nothing (John 15:5). We may not be physically poor in health, wealth or knowledge, but we can allow ourselves to be poor in spirit, detached from our own ego, so that the power of Christ may more easily dwell within us, strengthening us to carry out his will.