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Reflection: 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 – “Our competence is from God”

Critics and readers have long considered The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald to be the greatest American novel. And indeed, no other work captures and criticizes our understanding of the American dream so elegantly as this novel.

At first, the main character, Jay Gatsby appears to be a successful, self-made millionaire who likes to host extravagant parties in his Long Island mansion. Gatsby is convinced and confident that prestigious status in society and wealth are what one can rely on and trust in order to reach their own desires and dreams. But soon cracks appear to be emerging in his character as the narrator starts to reveal that Gatsby’s wealth was coming from his criminal past, his magnificent library is full of books that were never opened or read as well as the scope of his misguided confidence that wealth and status would eventually win the love of a woman without whom he could not imagine his life. His vain confidence and trust in wealth and prestige are shattered as we learn that not only they don’t help Jay Gatsby reach his dreams, but also bring pain, suffering and death to his life.

In today’s scripture reading St. Paul proposes a radically different approach as he encourages us to put our trust and confidence in God alone, to see Christ as the ultimate source of empowerment and competence.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

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