“Acknowledging our vulnerability is one of the most difficult things in life” and we try to disguise it or pretend it doesn’t exist, says pope.
VATICAN CITY — One of the most difficult things in life can be acknowledging our vulnerability, but this is precisely what can open our soul to God’s healing power, Pope Francis said this morning at Holy Mass in the chapel of his residence at Santa Marta.
“Sometimes,” the pope said, we seek to cover over our vulnerability, which we don’t see; or to mask it, so that it won’t be seen.” But it is only when we accept that we are “earthen vessels” fashioned “clay” that “the extraordinary power of God comes to us” to bring healing and joy.
In his homily, Pope Francis was reflecting on today’s first reading (2 Corinthians 4:7-15), where St. Paul says we receive the treasure which is Christ in “earthen vessels.”
Hiding our weakness from God
“All of us are vulnerable, fragile, weak, and we need to be healed,” the Pope said. “Recognizing and acknowledging our vulnerability is one of the most difficult things of life.” At times, he said, we try to cover over it, disguise it, or pretend it does not exist. “But disguises are always shameful,” the Pope said. “They are hypocrisy.”
Hiding our weakness from ourselves
Pope Francis explained that besides being hypocritical towards others, we are also hypocritical to ourselves by believing we are “something else,” and not in need of healing and support. This, the Pope said, is the path to vanity, pride and selfishness of those who do not feel they are made of clay, and so seek salvation and fulfilment in themselves.
Instead, as St. Paul says, it is the power of God that saves in our vulnerability. Hence we are troubled but not crushed; we are shaken but not desperate; we are persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not killed. There is always this relationship between clay and power, clay and treasure. But the temptation, the Pope said, is always the same: to cover, conceal and not believing we are made of clay. This is hypocrisy towards ourselves.
Pope Francis offered the example of confessing one’s sins as though it were a “grocery list” hoping to “whitewash the clay to make it appear stronger.” Instead, the pope said, we need to our weakness and vulnerability, even if it is “difficult” to do so. Hence the importance of “shame.” For it is shame that expands the heart and allows the the power of God in — the shame of being clay and not a silver or gold vase.
When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, he did not realize he was made of clay needing the Lord’s power to be saved, Pope Francis said.
It is a form of “generosity,” the pope concluded, to accept that we are “vulnerable, frail, week, sinner.”
It is only by accepting that we are “clay” that “the extraordinary power of God will come and give us the fulfilment, salvation, happiness and joy of being saved,” thus receiving the true “treasure,” which is the Lord