2 Corinthians 4: 7-15 “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”
Psalm 126: 1bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing ….”
Mathew 20: 20-28 “…‘Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many..’…”
Memorial of St. James the Greater (d.44ad) James and his brother, John (the Evangelist) were both called to become Apostles while they were mending their fishing nets with their father. They joined Jesus and Peter and his brother Andrew, who had been invited earlier. James is also the first Apostle to be martyred, and it was by the sword. He witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. He was special to Jesus, and we might call on him today to help us strengthen our Faith, fire it up; as Jesus also referred to him as being one of the sons of thunder, possibly for his temper.
I was immediately drawn into today’s reading with the first line, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Maybe the term ‘earthen vessels’ is so endearing because I spent some time in pottery labs both in high school and in college. I just loved the image of all that we are, all that we bring to any situation being encapsulated in an earthen vessel. This image also speaks about our limitations, something we don’t like to think about very often today. Those limitations are expounded on in the rest of the reading. We see humility in their words; in their humanity they called themselves back so that they could recognize from whence they received their power. It is a very good reminder for all of us, even if we are not curing people in Jesus’ name. All the good that we do is only possible because of Christ. And as we sometimes find out, we have the ability to become quite sour when life doesn’t go our way. So, as we read about them being “afflicted in every way, but not constrained” or “perplexed but not driven to despair”, let us be strengthened in our walk. This is a reminder for me just how much I need Jesus to help me in and throughout each day. It’s a reminder to ask in prayer for we are only earthen vessels. In Cursillo, also known as Christians Encounter Christ in my area, we learn we are the hands and feet of Jesus and that He is counting on us. Today’s first reading holds great wisdom for us as Followers of Christ. It is good to be reminded of our limitations, for it is in this realization that we will call for help. We overcome some of those limitations in Christ; and so succeed in bringing Christ into that moment.
Another lesson in humility is found in today’s Gospel, where we learn from one of James’ mistakes. He along with his brother, or in today’s reading the request is coming from their Mother, ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when Jesus returns to his kingdom. Jesus tells them they will drink of the cup He is about to drink, but that the position of right and left hand are not His to give. Humility is one of our more difficult virtues to groom, but it was also spoken of when Jesus told someone to sit at a lower position at a dinner table and wait for the host to call you to move up. So, we are reminded not to boast of ourselves, we are all in earthen vessels; our goal is heaven and it is only in imitating Jesus that we will be worthy of this goal. We are also reminded that Jesus wants us to bring many people along with us; otherwise why would He have come to earth and suffered as much as He did if not to show us another way to live? All good lessons for today…
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