So, today's Gospel is Christ healing the man with the withered hand. While on the Camino de Santiago this summer with my sister, we ran into a most extraordinary man with the following story:
He lived in a house during his college years with two buddies. They were three self-avowed partiers who spent their time smoking pot, drinking, having parties and going to school. The first roommate, went on a weekend retreat with Campus Crusade on a whim, and gave his life to Christ. Normally, I don't believe in conversion stories like this... but the gentlemen telling us this story said that his life certainly changed overnight - he started doing the dishes.
Roommate #2 had been raised in a semi-Catholic home... but was really in the same state as the other two pre-conversion roommates. He thought it was 'cool' when the first roommate changed his life, and wished he could just as easily break his twice-a-day-pot-habit... but knew that he was too weak. One day, Roommate #2 decides the day has come when he is going to get drunk alone, by himself. He was invited to a party, but this would be something new, something novel... so he dressed up in a 3 piece suit, a prisoner to his execution, donned a fedora... got on his bike, and pedaled to the liquor store. Like St. Paul, he was knocked to the ground, and injured his right arm. Since his glorious solopsistic bachanal had been spoiled, he decided to join the party. After a night of partying, he realized that his arm hurt... and so he headed to the hospital, was treated for a broken arm, and released back to the party.
What a party it was. He had difficulty brushing his teeth the next morning as he tried to use the arm he had broken reaching for alcholism. He then tried the withered arm, the arm that he never used before - his left arm. When that didn't work, he heard God tell him, "you've always relied on your own strength... and when you faced something you couldn't overcome, it broke you. Your arm is broken. Now is the time for you to rely on Me, but you have no strength for that either because you have never exercised your spiritual life. That withered spiritual life is like your left arm, withered and useless. "
But St. Paul wasn't kidding when he said, "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me."
Roommate #2 is now a Catholic priest.