Saint Romuald, Abbot
2 Corinthians 11:18, 21-30
I too will boast. (2 Corinthians 11:18)
Don’t you find it funny that Paul would condemn those who boast, but then turn around and spend a lot of time boasting himself? He goes to such great lengths to tell the Corinthians about his credentials as an apostle and about all the hardships he has endured; it’s as if he were some sort of superhero whom they should admire! Later on, he admits that boasting is not “profitable,” but then he dives right back in, telling them all about his extraordinary spiritual experiences (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
Maybe some context will help us figure out what Paul is doing here. It seems that other people, whom Paul labeled as false apostles, had come to Corinth preaching a different form of the gospel than the one he and the other apostles were preaching. These “superapostles” were impressing the Corinthians with their showy preaching, their easier message, and their impressive credentials. So Paul, fearing that the people were being led astray, leapt to his defense—and more important, to the defense of his message.
Paul was always a passionate man, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he was so extreme in his argument. He was also being shrewd: he hoped that by speaking so abruptly, he could shock the Corinthians back to their senses. Remember, this is the same man who once wrote that he would do whatever it takes to bring people to Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Paul’s words, not just in today’s readings but throughout his writings, show us that sometimes we have to fight for the sake of the gospel. Sometimes we have to show a little passion to help shake people up a bit. And sometimes we need a good shaking up as well!
Of course, our Christian witness should not always be one of confrontation or spiritual boasting. Sometimes we need to be gentle and compassionate. Other times we need to be quiet and meek. God wants us to be flexible, resourceful, and creative as we respond to each situation with his wisdom. So let’s go out and tell people about Jesus’ love and salvation—even if it means boasting in our weaknesses!
“Lord, I want to share your good news. Teach me how to be as shrewd as a serpent and as gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16).”~WAU