The treasure we possess is in earthen vessels (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7)
St. Paul reminds us that we hold a treasure in earthen vessels “…to make clear that its surpassing power comes from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Today, when we have such a great need for the treasure of reconciliation in our broken world, it is necessary for us to remember this.
Fortunately, long ago, the prophet Jeremiah was reassuring when he said that, though we are earthen vessels, we have been molded and shaped by God. The clay, which we are, has been made pliable for the Divine potter by the waters of our baptism. Indeed, we have been formed by good hands, but we also know we had nothing to do with the forming, and that of ourselves, even now, we can do nothing. We have been reconciled through the blood of Jesus and are a new creation in Him, but the vessel is still fragile and can be broken through sin. Self-reliance never brings about reconciliation. It is only through God-reliance in Jesus who is our great Reconciler, that we can achieve that goal. He did not sin but He did experience all of our weaknesses. All. He knows the difficulty involved in the first steps to reconciliation when, for example, we manage to speak a word of apology or forgiveness.
We then become keenly aware that the final good result is God’s work. We do not do reconciliation; God does it in us! This is not to say that our work is unimportant. It is simply to recognize that reconciliation is pure grace—not something we earn or something we deserve. Our part is to accept this grace and cooperate with it. It can be a great motivator to pray for the peace we so desire in our world today as well as making us ready to receive the gift of reconciliation in our own little corner of the world.
Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sr. Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.