Treasures in Vessels of Clay

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Feast of Saint James, Apostle

1st Reading 2 Cor 4:7-15 ; Gospel: Mt 20:20-28

The life of a Christian is a life of paradoxes. As the hymn goes “to live is to die, to laugh is to cry”. Today’s readings on the Feast of St. James look at the paradoxes that entail true Christian following of Jesus and a creative understanding of how to live it concretely is possible.

In St. Paul’s letter he first explores the aspect of vulnerability as power. It demonstrates how being vulnerable and sensitive enables the possibility of the power of God to shine through us. He then defiantly proclaims how challenges towards proclaiming the gospel can be surmounted by God who works in the disciples. He then concludes how through our dying we rise to life with Jesus. He lastly concludes how our self-giving leads to greater abundance for ourselves and how others who receive it begin to share.

In the Gospel too Jesus understanding how the other disciples were upset at the request of the mother of James and John, instructs them on how living the paradox of following Jesus is the way to true power i.e. that of self-kenosis(self-emptying).

How do we live the paradox of the Gospel in our lives? How do we live through the tension of focusing on ourselves and on giving of ourselves? What are the limits in these? There is no clear answer or a definite law or clear boundaries. Our responses and spirituality however could be directed on the following tenets. Firstly, our constant openness and attentiveness to the bidding of the spirit. We are called to be treasures in vessels of clay. Our ability to understand the socio-economic situation around us as an earthen pot absorbs moisture and respond with the treasure within us is our call and mission. Secondly the beatitudes which share the paradoxical tension of todays readings could guide our actions.

Finally with the Gospels to guide us and the richness of our Catholic tradition, we could ask on our knees in prayer, “What would Jesus do in this situation.” Maybe the answer we would receive would be by raising our eyes to the cross, the ultimate symbol of kenosis and say, “ Father, into your hands I commend my spirit, do with me as you please. “

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