In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!
As the apostle surprises us, he calls us to remember our weaknesses: “Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I love to be in ailments, in sorrows, in troubles, in persecutions, in oppressions because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). How can he brag about his weaknesses – a great apostle of nations, a prominent builder, theologian and teacher of the Church of Christ, who seems to us a symbol of Christian power, strength, and energy? The one who went around almost the entire Mediterranean, preaching Christ, and suddenly he brags to us about his infirmities! We ordinary people are used to hiding our weaknesses even from ourselves. Our entire life today teaches us to be strong, to be the first, to compete for primacy, not to show anyone our weak sides, to be an aggressor who rushes forward no matter what.
And suddenly the apostle teaches us something completely different… Why? Because otherwise we will not leave room for Christ in us. When we concentrate exclusively on ourselves, on our strengths, when we lose self-criticism and try to show ourselves in everything, to be first, then what remains for Christ? Leave us as we are? To respect our choice, because He respects our choice, and to step aside, waiting for when we will finally call Him?
It happens that even a church person, who tries to improve spiritually in everyday Christian life, also rushes forward, sometimes pushing others away or not noticing them, striving for something good – to be near Christ.
Let’s remember the apostle Peter, whom we respect today. When the resurrected Christ appears to him, what is the first thing He asks Peter about? “Simon, son of Jonin, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15) . What a strange question indeed! Can a father ask one of his children: “Do you love me more than others”? This already looks like a provocation. But let’s remember how it was before.
When Christ announced that all would show weakness, the apostle Peter declared: “Even if all were tempted because of You, I will never be tempted…. Even if I die with You, I will not deny You” (Mt. 26: 33, 35) . And what happened? He betrayed the Master three times until the rooster crowed.
And now Christ seems to remind Peter of his audacity: “… do you love me more than these? ” And Peter does not say anything more. He only confesses: ” Yes, Lord, You know that I love You!” (John 21:15). Christ does not need anything more than to accept Him into our hearts, to admit that we are weak and imperfect people by ourselves. And only when Christ indwells us with the Holy Spirit, then we can win. When we do not concentrate on ourselves, on our joys and pains, successes and defeats, then and only then can we successfully overcome our spiritual and physical crises, ailments and problems, because we rely not on ourselves, but on Christ. That is why, as it turned out, the apostle Simon, so impetuous and at the same time unstable, became Peter, a rock, on whose firm faith and sacrificial service, like other disciples and followers of Jesus, the Lord built the New Testament Church.
And the apostle Saul-Paul, who began his life so shamefully, zealously persecuting Christians, also tried to be the first. It was him, as the most trusted among the Pharisees, who was sent by the Sanhedrin to Damascus. But suddenly the bright light of Christ’s appearance shows Saul how blind he was ( Acts 9:3-19 )! And as a sign of this, he temporarily loses his physical sight, so that only when Saul accepts Christ, converts and is baptized, his eyes will be opened.
Today, remembering the two supreme apostles, Peter and Paul, and evaluating our place in the Church, let’s think again: don’t we also show Peter’s fault when we convince ourselves and everyone around us that we are the best, that we will never show weakness? Don’t we also have arrogance, excessive self-confidence, reducing the whole world to the narrow side of our own “I”? And when we discover all this in ourselves, let us not lose ourselves, let us not fall into despair, but learn from the apostles to overcome our own pride and arrogance – not for self-humiliation and self-flagellation, but so that, having weathered our inner being from everything evil, sinful and superfluous, to make room there for the source of unfailing Divine light, which is capable of illuminating our entire life path: for Christ Himself. Amen.