Earthen Vessels

We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

– 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

Look around you. Look at your spouse, your roommate, your good friend, your kids, your coworkers.

Do it. Right now. Look at them.

God the Father, through Jesus Christ, makes these people saints.

Tonight I attended a “Gospel Around the Grill” event put on by my local parish where we talked about the canonization process by which the Church proclaims Saints (with a capital “S”). The information was admittedly somewhat confusing and definitely fascinating, but ever since, my thought keep wandering back to the concept of humanity. Saints and their canonization are such an institution in the Church that sometimes it is easy to forget that they are not a separate category of being. They are not angels. They are not “other”. God did not hijack their humanity and release them as a holy automaton. The saints, every last one of them, were human.

Like your spouse, your roommate, your good friend, your kids, your coworkers.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. James the Apostle, and the readings selected for today certainly do not promote this narrative of saints as mythical creatures (if anything, they would almost seem a little harsh to anyone without the humility of a saint. Today’s first reading, much of which is presented above, talks about how Godly treasure resides in our “earthen vessels”. We’re dull clay pots holding golden, molten lava-fire-bright Grace, and if we play our cards right, it’s the Grace that does the walking, talking, and purifying. We can claim no accomplishment as our own: accomplishments, recognition, and glory are given by the Father alone, as today’s Gospel makes abundantly clear.

To paraphrase: “James, you will suffer with me, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will celebrate in the eternal joy of Heaven with me. That’s for the Father to decide. He is the just Judge, He will search your soul and spirit to see if you spent your time shining up your earthen vessel to impress, or filling it with Grace to overflow.”

Today, please pray for the Grace to see the potential of God in every single person that surrounds you. Pray for the confidence that God can do that work in yourself.

And most of all: Pray and believe that the Father, through Jesus, will make you a saint.