Friday, June 12, 2009

Treasures In Clay Jars

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Matthew 5:27-32

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is

"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

+++ +++ +++ +++

Some of us who read the first few words of today’s Epistle will be reminded of the refrain of a sacred song from a few years ago, “Earthen Vessels”, by John Foley, S.J.:

“We hold a treasure not made of gold, in earthen vessels wealth untold; one treasure only, the Lord, the Christ, in earthen vessels.”

This passage from Paul’s second letter to the people of Corinth reminds us that Jesus, who was lifted up into heaven, has fulfilled his promise, and while He is no longer present in visible and tangible human shape and form, Jesus remains with us and within us, in the Holy Spirit, whom we received at our Baptism and whose presence within us was renewed at Confirmation.

Now, here’s the rest of the story!

We have not been given a choice of what vessel will contain the Spirit within us. We were given one since birth – and before that. We might have preferred it to be a 14 carat gold case, inlaid with precious jewels of brilliant colors. No, we are the descendants of Adam, whose body was formed from the clay of the earth by the Creator. Our vessel is a clay pot, weathered, chipped, may be even cracked.

I am reminded of an old legend:

There was a poor woman who traveled a long way in the morning to a well where she filled two pots for the fresh water needs of her family each day.

One pot was sturdy never having been damaged; the other, while the same size, had a crack that had been repaired carefully more than once.

Every day when the woman arrived home the newer pot was still just as full as when she had left the well. The other pot in contrast, despite its best efforts, leaked water so that when they reached her home, it was barely half full.

One day, the damaged pot spoke to the woman, “I’m really sorry that I can’t help you more than I do. By the time we get home, have the water we started out with is gone, but you never seem to be disturbed or upset. I don’t really understand why not.”

The damaged pot lamented, “I’m so sorry that I can’t help you any more than I do. I only have half the amount of water that we start with and yet you never seem to be upset with me. I don’t understand.”

“My goodness,” she replied, “I’ve known and loved you for many years. I’m well aware that you’ve been broken and were repaired as best we could and that you try as hard as you can to hold in as many drops of water as possible.”

“What you’ve not noticed is that I been planting seeds along our route. As I’ve walked the drops that fell have nourished the seeds each and every day. Now, there is a beautiful flower garden all along our path, full of many kinds of flowers and wonderful colors.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus is not adding more rules, but rather, looking more deeply into the meaning of the Commandments than the Scribes and Pharisees. What he sees is this: the problem is not with the Law itself, but rather within the heart of the person who is called to observe the Law.

It is often been said that there is less of a sense of sin in our world than there used to be. That’s must of a conundrum, since the 20th century has witnessed one of the greatest atrocities of all times: tyrannical governments, cities devastated by weapons of mass destruction, widespread ravaging of the environment, and the massacre of unborn children.

Why do people have such a superficial sense of sin? We are aware of the sins committed everywhere In the world, but we seem to have a diminished sense of personal sin. How is it that we have a diminished sense of sin? We are aware of the sins of the world, but we have a diminished sense of personal sin. The sins of the world are so vast that our own seem puny beside them. If we have a diminished sense of sin, it is not because we think we are better than before; it is because we feel powerless and ineffectual. But this is very dangerous. It is necessary to reflect on this state of mind, because it is the source of great evil. Edmund Burke wrote: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

No comments: