“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4.1-2, 5-7) These wise words of St. Paul came from a deep well of self-knowledge. Paul knew better than most the truth of saying, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”
As you process from this majestic sanctuary, dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, into a world rife with discord and bereft of mercy cherish the precious treasure entrusted to you, reverence the awesome power of God bestowed upon you. May you tremble remembering that this is of God and not from us.
Be not a channel of grace but a reservoir of God’s grace. St. Bernard of Clairvaux provided this beautiful metaphor for ministers when he spoke on the love of God. He said, “Those who are wise will see their lives as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then pours forth the overflow without loss to itself. … You must imitate this process. First, be filled, and then control the outpouring. The charity that is benign and prudent does not flow outward until it abounds within.” (Bernard Clairvaux: Commentary on the Song of Song: On the Love of God)
Heed always that we are earthen vessels to whom God will pour forth the treasure of his infinite mercy and wisdom. Let yourselves be filled to overflowing with the surpassing power of God. To be filled with anything else is vanity. To teach or offer anything else is foolishness. You were ordained to present Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as the slaves of others for the sake of Jesus.
The sacrament of matrimony has already taught you this. You and your spouse have come to know the wise humility of St. Paul’s admission. I am grateful for the women who have been your companions, counselors, and confidantes on this pilgrimage. Your presence today before the Church owes much to the offering they themselves have made. May your married lives continue to serve a reservoir of grace that overflows into your diaconal ministry. May God’s charity always abound within your home so that it flows outward as a divine treasure upon all the Church.
Yesterday, the nation learned of a great legal awakening after decades of slavish adherence to a throw-away culture. This beckons a new horizon for women, children, and their families. More than the polemics and politics that have ravaged public discourse for years, the patient, preserving work of charity has long been the most persuasive message that has stirred this new epiphany of hope.
Such charity is still so sorely needed as this new day comes to light. This is your particular charge, the undimmed and determined light of divine charity that reveals the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ. Be undaunted messengers and diligent servants of charity’s treasures. Seek out the lost, the lonely, and the forgotten. Walk with the homeless, the hungry, and imprisoned. Befriend the stranger, the sick, and the sorrowful. May they all come to know the light of God’s glory and yourselves as their slaves for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.