The gospel is ironic. When we are weak, Christ is most strong in us. When we rely on our strength and strive to be successful for impure motives, we dishonor the one we’ve been called to represent.

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Communities, where Henri Nouwen spent the most significant years of his ministry among the severely disabled, gave a fitting benediction at Nouwen’s ordination to the priesthood:

May all your expectations be frustrated.

May all your plans be thwarted.

May all your desires be withered into nothingness

That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

I have some bad news. We are failures. Epic failures.

I have some good news, too. We are epic failures who are radically loved by God and, in his great compassion, he uses our weakness to bring his strength to all those other epic failures we are called to serve. That is good news indeed.

Somedays I believe someone is praying this prayer for me. However, I rarely advance to the final line of it.