Friday, June 14, 2013

“Don’t run from your weakness, you will only give it strength.”

All things can be endured and all things become possible between two Masses: the Mass of yesterday and the Mass of tomorrow. I need to be able to sustain one day of my life. I need that Food if I am to live His commandments. I need Him daily because I am a sinner and weak. ~ Dom Virgil Michel, OSB

Scripture text: (2 COR 4:7-15)
Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,”
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Life is so very fragile, isn’t it? We realize that so powerfully when we hold a newborn in our arms. This tiny life is so fragile, so dependent, so precious and so alive with wonder. We want to protect that child from all harm forever. We also realize how fragile life is at the end of life, when a loved one is no longer with us. He or she quietly, suddenly slips away, and the loss reminds us how delicate life is.

The apostle Paul reminds us of this fact that our bodies are perishable containers, so very frail and weak. We are like earthen pottery ware, he notes, jars of clay if you will. The image of pottery is that it is fragile and can easily become cracked, chipped, or broken if dropped. O, we try to care for these jars of clay, but eventually, inevitably they wear out.

A wise old nun once said: “Pain is the price of consciousness.” How regularly that truth is evident in the life of St. Paul, who was painfully aware of his own feet of clay. As he says in today’s epistle, “We possess a treasure in earthen vessels.” It’s true of us all, though sometimes we don’t remember either part of that quote. We so easily forget what a treasure we have in the totally unearned love with which the Lord cherishes us. Who in the world could have imagined that this would be the way that God would want to deal with his creatures?

But, unlike St. Paul, we also regularly forget how seriously unfinished we are, and we take the Lord’s love for granted, almost as if it were earned. To face our flaws as Paul did is painful and it’s tempting to look the other way. But consciousness of our real selves, instead of our imaginary selves, is the price of opening the door to God’s healing love, and it’s the key to beginning to grow into the persons that God always dreamed we’d be.

That consciousness of our real selves has to be renewed and expanded daily. The task is never done in this life. But rewards are real, here and now, and they’re worth the pain, every bit of it. It’s not the pain of death, but the pain of giving birth.

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