Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta commenting on St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. In the latter, the apostle speaks about the mystery of Christ, saying that we have a treasure of vessels made of clay and urging us to be aware that we are made of clay, weak and sinful.
We have this treasure of Christ in “our fragility”. We are made of clay. “It is the power of God, the strength of God, that saves, heals, makes us stand.” This is “the reality of our vulnerability”.
“We are all vulnerable, fragile, weak, and we need to be healed. He says: we are troubled, upset, persecuted, struck by the manifestation of our weakness, Paul’s weakness, the manifestation of clay. This is our vulnerability. One of the most difficult things in life is to recognise one’s vulnerability.”
“Sometimes, we try to cover our vulnerability so that it cannot be seen, or we try to make it up so that it cannot be seen, or disguise it. . . Paul himself, at the beginning of this chapter, says, ‘When I fell into shameful things. This is shameful, always. They [the things] are hypocritical”.
In addition to “hypocrisy towards others” there is also that “towards ourselves”, when we believe “to be something else”, thinking “that we do not need healing” and “support”. When, in short, we say, “I’m not made of clay,” I have my own “treasure”.
“This is the way, this is the path towards vanity, pride, the self-referentiality of those who do not feel like clay, who seek salvation, fullness in themselves. But God’s power is what saves us, as Paul recognised our vulnerability. ‘We are troubled, but not crushed.’ We are not crushed because the power of God saves us. ‘We are upset’, ‘but not desperate’. There is something in God that gives us hope. We are persecuted but not abandoned. We are struck but not killed.”
“There is always this relationship between clay and power, between clay and treasure. We have a treasure in clay vessels. But the temptation is always the same: covering, concealing, not believing we are made of clay. Hypocrisy towards ourselves.”
Francis noted that the Apostle Paul leads us towards a dialogue “between treasure and clay” through this way of “thinking, reasoning, preaching the Word of God”.
The example is confession, when “we cite ours sins as if they were a price list,” thinking of “whitewashing the clay a bit” in order to be stronger. Instead, we must accept our weakness and vulnerability, even if it is “difficult” to do so. This is where “shame” comes into play.
“Shame broadens the heart to allow the power of God in – the shame of being clay and not a silver or gold vase. Being clay. If we get to this point, we will be happy. We will be very happy. The dialogue between God’s power and clay: Let us think about the washing of the feet when Jesus approaches Peter and Peter says: ‘No, not me, Lord. Please! What are you doing?’
“Peter did not understand that he was made of clay, that he needed the power of the Lord to be saved.” Thus, “generosity” lies in recognising that one is “vulnerable, fragile, weak, a sinner”. Only when we accept we are made of clay that the “extraordinary power of God will come and give us the fulfilment, salvation, happiness and joy of being saved,” thus receiving the Lord’s “treasure”.