Pope Benedict XVI says that the life of St. Paul shows that God can work wonders through those who grow ever closer to him in prayer.
“As our union with the Lord grows and our prayer becomes more intense, we too come to focus on the essential and to understand that it is not the power of our own means that creates the Kingdom of God, but God who works miracles through our very weakness,” the Pope during the June 13 general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
Continuing his recent weekly exploration of the lessons taught by the prayer life of St. Paul, Pope Benedict turned to the apostle’s experience of contemplative prayer, as recorded in his Second Letter to the Corinthians. He noted that in “defending the legitimacy of his apostolate, Paul appeals above all to his profound closeness to the Lord in prayer, marked by moments of ecstasy, visions and revelations,” and yet, at the same time, he also “willingly boasts of his weakness, in order that the power of Christ might dwell in him.”
St. Paul uses this approach because he is eager for his readers to understand how “all the difficulties we meet in following Christ,” including “suffering, difficulty and persecution,” can be overcome “by opening ourselves trustingly to the action of the Lord,” the Pope said.
The example of his life and trials should remind all Christians that it is “at the moment we feel our own weakness that the power of God becomes manifest.”
Thus, “in a world in which we risk relying only on the power of human means,” St. Paul calls us to “rediscover and bear witness to the power of prayer, through which we grow day by day as our lives are conformed to that of Christ.”
Pope Benedict recalled that the Protestant theologian and 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer described St. Paul as “a mystic and nothing more than a mystic,” since the apostle was a man so “truly enamored of Christ and so united to him as to be able to say: Christ lives in me.”
The lesson for our own lives, suggested the Pope, is to follow his example and “remain constant and faithful in our relationship with God, especially in moments of aridity, difficulty and suffering.” Only then will we be able to face difficulties as St. Paul did, “in the conviction that we can do all things through him who gives us strength.”
The Pope added that by giving more room to prayer “we will see our lives transformed and animated by the real power of God's love.” He observed that this was the experience of Blessed Mother Teresa, who, in her contemplation of Jesus, “discovered the ultimate reason and incredible strength to recognize him in the poor and abandoned, despite her fragile figure.” This is because, contrary to the suggestion of some, contemplation of Jesus Christ in prayer “does not distance us from reality,” but “makes us ever more involved in human affairs,” because the Lord draws us to himself in prayer, enabling us “to remain close to all our brothers and sisters in his love.”