July 25

'I'm Just Human' Is No Excuse

Tuesday, July 25 0 St. James But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

This has long been a favorite passage of mine. But, regrettably, I must acknowledge that I tend to (mis)use it to justify a minimalism in my call to follow Christ.

On one level, it's a beautifully worded reminder from St. Paul that we frail humans are empowered to reach the heights of the Gospel holiness only through God's grace. So even our very human limitations are sacraments of God's power and grace. So far, so good.

What I catch myself doing, however, is turning this passage into an excuse for mediocrity. "I'm no angel, just an 'earthen vessel, after all, so don't expect much of me. Or other Christians either." I tend to use this passage to lower the demands for my spiritual growth and for service to the Gospel.

Yet it's clear that St. Paul is doing exactly the opposite. God, he writes, "has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God. . . " In faith, I know that I am to bring nothing less than the light of the knowledge of God-and that my reflection is to be all the brighter not despite the fact that I'm a poor earthen vessel but precisely because I am.


James E. Adams

2 Corinthians 4:7-15 9 Psalm 126:1-6 Matthew 20:20-28