Treasures in vessels of clay



The 1st reading ends: ‘You are the Potter and we are the clay, we are all the work of your hands’. These words humble us because they remind us that we are clay.  But they also raise us because we know that God is our Potter.  We have a divine dignity, even though we carry this dignity in vessels of clay.


This is a short story to highlight this wonderful truth.  A Father had four children and when they were old enough to leave home he gave each of them a treasure sealed in an earthenware jar. They were all excited about it and left home carrying the jar with great care.  However, the eldest son soon got tired looking after such a fragile pot.  Even though he realized that his father trusted him and believed that the jar contained a special treasure he got impatient and became reckless.  The jar dropped and cracked.  Upset he took the jar and put it aside now annoyed with his father for placing him in this position.


Anne loved the jar and wanted to take good care of it and so placed it in a metal container.  Securely locked she beautifully decorated the container and showed it to all her friends, very pleased with her action.  Unfortunately the container now became her treasure and she forgot about the inner treasure.Brendan looked at it quite differently.  Soon he began to question the value of the jar and whether it really contained a treasure.  Life was difficult at the time and he was short of money, so he sold his treasure even though he felt guilty about doing so.


The youngest girl, Sarah, carried the treasure with utmost care.  She had no doubts about the value, so great was her trust in her father.  Even though she went through difficult times she never lost heart.  She had a real anchor in life, not so much the treasure she carried, but the treasure of the love of her father which the treasure symbolised.


Time went by and the father became very ill and called his children to him.  The first three children thought that the father wanted to have an account given of the jars with the treasure, Sarah however, was broken hearted because her father was about to die.  The father was so happy to see his children and he asked with great interest about the well-being of each of his them.  Not a word was spoken about the jar containing the treasure.  Finally one of them said:’ Dad are you not going to ask us about the treasures?He replied: ‘I have already done so’.  They frowned in surprise and could not understand what the father meant.  With a loving smile he said: ‘You are my treasure’.


How beautiful this reply.  So often we forget that we, God’s children, are loved every moment of every day with an unconditional love that cannot be earned or lost. It is to this anchor that we can return after every failure.  God sees us as precious and God’s deepest longing is to be in communion with us.  Advent calls us to allow God to love us into life, to draw us into the fire of his love, to taste the glory of God’s presence in our lives.  We are not mere lumps of clay; we are God’s chosen children.  This love, experienced in us, releases a stream of joy enabling us to love ourselves and the other.  So the call is to stay awake, be conscious of our divine dignity, of God’s spirit and love moving in and around us, in and around our neighbour, in and around our world.

 S. Sylvia OP

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