St. Paul does not simply present himself in 2 Corinthians 4:7 as a poor and weak minister of God; we should give due weight to the fact that he is speaking about a treasure and about power. We are called to appreciate our wealth and power wherever it can be seen in our lives and appreciate these as gifts from God. As gifts from God they are given to us not just for ourselves but for the building up of God’s Church, for the common good. The early Church already used the very helpful image of stewardship: whatever we have received does not belong to us; it still belongs to God and must be used for God’s work; in this sense there is no private property!
Furthermore, Paul invites us to face the disturbing mixture in our experience of treasure and poverty, of power and weakness: “We carry this treasure in an earthen vessel.” This points to our experience of various kinds of limitation, of weakness, of failure. Ultimately for Paul this contrast is part of the Easter Mystery of Christ and we are called to read our own experiences in the light of this mystery. Christian life is marked by the mystery of Easter: it not only confronts us with the reality of our weakness and poverty but shows the way forward. It is the challenge of dying so that we may rise: actively and faithfully living through the experiences of weakness is the way towards the power and wealth of Easter Life for the world and for ourselves.
“So then, death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Cor 4:12).
“In our bodies there is ever the mark of the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be seen in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10).
Paul Decock, OMI, Cedara