WE ARE ONLY EARTHENWARE JARS THAT HOLD THE GOSPEL TREASURE
(Friday, June 14, 2019)
The gospel message of Jesus is a treasure. This is what Jesus said in His parables. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, He goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt 13:44). St. Paul says we have this treasure and has been giving wonderful pictures of what it looks like to be a Christian. In the first six verses of 2 Corinthians 4, Paul has described Christians as those who are beholding the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. In the context of today, St. Paul describes this treasure as the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is the treasure. We have a precious treasure in the word of God because the gospel reveals the glory of God.
But notice what Paul says about this treasure. Paul says we have this treasure in clay jars. Clay jars were insignificant in the ancient Near East. They were common, unimportant, temporary, and expendable. If a clay jar broke, you did not try to fix it. You just discarded it and replaced it. So St. Paul does not say that this treasure is contained in gold treasure boxes. The treasure of the gospel message is held in clay jars. This is how St. Paul pictures himself and it is how we must consider ourselves. St. Paul does not say that he is a unique work of art, worthy of the highest value. No, he is a clay jar among many clay jars, carrying the treasure of the gospel. St. Paul continues “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
The power is in the message, not the clay jar. God put the treasure of the gospel in human containers like St. Paul and the apostles with a purpose: to show that the treasure of the gospel has nothing to do with the jar. The image of clay jars was used as a metaphor for human weakness in ancient writings. Our flaws show the flawless gospel. We are the clay jars so that we are not stealing the glory away from God and his glorious gospel. We are to embrace our weaknesses so that the power of God can be made visible in our lives. In this first reading, St. Paul reminds us that the value is not us. We are just clay jars. The value is the gospel and we are valuable in relation to the task and value given to us by God.
When we promote ourselves as anything more than a clay jar, we have taken away the attention from God, where the attention always belongs. We must never draw attention to ourselves but to God and the gospel. We have this gospel treasure and our lives are hidden so that Christ is on display. You have died and Christ is your life! We die to ourselves so that others may live. We do not satisfy our desires but forfeit our lives so that others can see the treasure of the gospel and find life. We have beheld the light of the glory of the Lord and we must share it.
This is why we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out. Having beheld the treasure of the gospel, are we causing people to see the treasure we carry or are we causing people to look at the jar, which is us? Do we draw attention to ourselves or do we draw attention to the gospel? are we more concerned about protecting our clay jar or about protecting the treasure? We are clay jars with a purpose: we must protect the treasure and show the treasure. If we fail in this purpose, then we have failed God who gave us this purpose. We must have the glory to be directed to God and never to ourselves.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me grace to do your will and may I continue to serve you with my whole heart. Amen.