“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)
I shared a sad story last Sunday in church about Jean Vanier, who was best known for being the founder of L’Arche communities that aimed to help disabled people. He was loved by thousands, respected by millions, a man who has inspired people across the world, including me. He was once seen as a Nobel or sainthood candidate. Now, sadly, he has been identified as a serial sexual abuser, 25 cases. Learning of Jean’s abusive behavior makes me feel deeply betrayed, sickened, confused, ashamed. The apparently saintly, well loved and respected person can still fall in this way. The shock and betrayal. The breaking of trust. Why?
We say, “How are you?” Then most of us respond, “I am fine, thank you!” Actually, we are blind to our weaknesses. We all have demons. There is a shadow in each of us. We often prefer not to talk openly and honestly about our weaknesses to our loved ones or close friends. Did we hear what St. Paul groaned and cried? “Wretched person that I am! So then, with my mind I am enslaved to the law of God, but with my flesh I am enslaved to the law of sin.”
A courageous admission of our weaknesses is the first step to getting into the world of true faith. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The good news is that we are not the sum of our failures, no matter how many voices are telling us so. And we are beloved children of God, called and claimed by God’s grace, chosen to be a royal priesthood, a holy people, called out of the darkness and into God’s glorious light. (1 Peter 2:9-12) For “God’s grace is sufficient for us, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)