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Friday, July 25, 1997

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St. James

2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalm 126
Matthew 20:20-28

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earthen vessels and blood-vessels

"This treasure we possess in earthen vessels." —2 Corinthians 4:7

Part of today's first reading is very popular. We seem to get much satisfaction from thinking of ourselves as "earthen vessels." Certainly we are weak and fragile. The emphasis in the New Testament, however, is not on our weakness but on the Lord's power and our greatness in Him. We are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people He claims for His own" (1 Pt 2:9). We are greater than the greatest people of the Old Testament: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. (Mt 11:11) We can even do greater by far than Jesus did (Jn 14:12). We are earthen vessels but the most expensive vessels in the history of the human race. We were bought at the price of Jesus' blood.

Through His incarnation, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection, the human person, and especially the Christian, has been raised to an awesome dignity. We are precious and chosen. We have every reason to love ourselves (see Mt 22:39). We also have every reason to reject the petty pleasures of the world, because they are beneath our dignity as children of God and temples of the Spirit. Yes, we are earthen vessels, but more importantly we are tabernacles where God has chosen to dwell.

Prayer:  Father, may my self-image be appropriate to the fact that You sent Your Son to die for me.

Promise:  "Indeed, everything is ordered to your benefit, so that the grace bestowed in abundance may bring greater glory to God because they who give thanks are many." —2 Cor 4:15

Praise:  James used to be concerned about fighting problems by destroying people (Lk 9:54). After he received the Holy Spirit, he solved problems by concentrating "on prayer and the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, November 12, 1996

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 10, 1996