16 June 2017
“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” That line brings to mind images of pottery—clay, ceramic, porcelain. Whatever they are, they’re fragile vessels; in some respects, they have a natural weakness, and they break easily. And so, it’s intriguing as to why God would put the treasure of himself inside earthen vessels—inside us—who are weak and easily broken.
And it seems that we’re meant to be broken; we’re meant to be weak, because that’s how God is revealed. I think of a piggy bank—one those decorative porcelain ones. If you want to get the money out, you have to break the bank. Otherwise, all the “glory” stays inside. The piggy bank has to be breakable in order to get the good stuff out.
And so it’s a good thing to admit our weakness, to be humble and say things like, “I don’t know everything. There’s always more to learn.” And that’s good because it allows the spirit of curiosity and interest, the spirit of sharing and dialogue to happen—and that’s all a reflection of God the Holy Trinity; the Father who shares himself with the Son, and the Son who shares himself with the Father in the curiosity and dialogue which is the Holy Spirit.
It’s good to be weak, to be an “earthen vessel,” not only because God can be revealed through us, but God can also come into us as well—earthen vessels are very porous, just like our souls are made to be porous. When we’re weak, we can see that in the gospel today, Jesus isn’t changing the law; he’s digging deeper into the law, revealing to us more of what underlies God’s commandments.
Being an “earthen vessel” has its drawbacks, too. For instance, it prevents us from holding too tightly onto anything—our life, our tradition, our hopes for the future. Death is a constant reminder of how weak we really are. Of course, God doesn’t necessarily see that as a drawback. In fact, he sees it as a plus; after all, he made us, the earthen vessels that we are. He made us to be weak and easily broken, so that we would have to rely on him. God is the rock; he is the pillar of strength; he is our salvation—not us.
It’s good to be weak and fragile. It’s a reminder that we’re not made to go it alone; we’re not made to handle all the world’s problems ourselves. It’s a reminder that God made us for himself; we belong to him who loves us. It’s good to be weak and fragile.