We are often impressed by strength. When we are impressed by athletes and soldiers, a large part of it is how strong they are. Likewise with people in high positions–they can make things happen, and so they are strong. In the first reading, we have an image of God’s strength, but it is not what we would expect. Isaiah speaks of God’s “enduring love.” We continue to be weak, and God continues to want to make us strong. Time and again, throughout history, God has shown that His love is stronger than any mountain or hill, and that He will labor to bring us back to Him. The people who are not strong enough, and even the people who were never strong enough, have nothing to fear from God. God will endure with us, and will even give us His endurance.
This is a great relief. For most of us, our endurance will not last for very long. We are tired, we are worn out, we cannot think straight. And yet there is still so much farther to go. In the Gospel today, it was the Pharisees and scholars–those who would not acknowledge their weakness–who left at hearing Jesus’ words. Those who were baptized by John, and had already acknowledged publicly that they could no longer endure in their love, stayed and listened to Jesus. We must ask ourselves whether we are willing to admit our weakness, and so rely upon the enduring love of God.