Sunday 5 July
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
It is easy to speculate about what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ might have been. Some have argued that this might be sexual temptation, or a fierce temper, or perhaps a person Paul found particularly difficult – it could have been any of those, or any one of a myriad of things. What is worth noting is Paul’s reaction to it: ‘I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me’. The instinctive human response to difficulty is to get rid of it. By designating something – or someone – as a problem, the issue then becomes one of solving it by one means or another. If we look at the world around us – the world of politics, international relations, the world of business, institutions or even local society, we find innumerable examples of problems to be solved. And often the solution can merely create a further problem – or be seriously morally flawed. Paul realizes, in faith, that his problem is actually an essential part of how God wishes to work in his life. God’s work in Paul is not dependent on Paul’s strength – his problem-free competence.