We have all had our moments of joy and our moments of sadness, our moments of triumph and our moments of defeat. These ups and downs are simply part of life in this world. In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, we can see this great apostle dealing openly with one of the more difficult moments of his life.
This letter is different from all of Paul’s other letters. Rather than being filled with the usual theological explanations and practical exhortations, this is a letter of self-defense. Evidently, a group whom Paul labeled “false apostles” was attacking both his message and his character. They were pointing to his weaknesses and saying that these weaknesses disqualified him from preaching.
In his defense, Paul said that he was an “earthen vessel,” but that this vessel held the wonderful “treasure” of Christ in him. Through this analogy, Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that, as a messenger of God, he had his own mixture of good qualities and flaws. But the treasure, the Holy Spirit living in him, remained flawless.
Flawed but Gifted. What applies to Paul applies to all of us. When I contemplate the truth that the Holy Spirit lives in me, I get overwhelmed. I am so unworthy. I have so many flaws. But at the same time, I know that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit has called me to serve the Lord—just as he calls all of us.
We are all flawed and we are all gifted. We are going to make mistakes. We will say the wrong thing at the wrong time. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to build the kingdom. Jesus never told us to wait until we were perfect. He told us to try our best to be perfect. He told us to let his life flow into us so that we could bear fruit for him.
This is what Paul did. It’s what we are called to do. None of us is perfect, but we still have a lot of gifts. And when we put these gifts to work for the sake of the treasure inside of us, we touch people’s lives and we bring glory to God.
Thank You, Fr. Francis! I wanted to take a moment to honor Fr. Francis Martin, who turned eighty last October. Fr. Francis was my professor and mentor in theology, and he played a critical role in the early years of this magazine. Not only did he write many issues himself, he was constantly rewriting, editing, and correcting all of my work!
Last September, Fr. Francis suffered a major heart attack while traveling in Europe. It was touch and go at first, but now he is recovering nicely. During such times when human mortality is so evident, I wanted to acknowledge and honor the work of the Lord in Fr. Francis. Without him, The Word Among Us would not be the ministry it is today. So thank you, my brother and friend, for faithfully proclaiming the gospel for so many years. May the Lord continue to bless your service to the church!