Continuation…. Of the talk… FORMATORS AS VESSELS OF CLAY
(Recollection Talk by Br. Augustine Mwape OFM Cap, Custos of Zambia)
Vessels of clay
“But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us”
In the above text, St. Paul uses the symbol of clay to explain the ordinariness of the carrier of the good news. Clay is made of dust. It is earthy or earthily. It is also fragile, brittle, feeble, easily broken or shattered, cracked or delicate.
A clay vessel is easily replaceable (as opposite to being indispensable). It is not very expensive or pretty as compared to the golden, silver or brass vessel. Yet it is serviceable and useful to the owner. This is exactly the story of each and every formator. The formator has his own history, his limitations, weaknesses and strengths, talents, gifts, anxieties, wounds, brokenness, imperfections, biasness, political affiliations, tastes, likes and dislikes, cares, glory and shame, ups and downs, dark moments, crosses or discouragements. A formator has not yet arrived. There is an earthiness that not even ordination or profession is able to delete. The formator in this context always remains part of the history of sin and grace; and always part of the Fall.
The task and the good news
The major task is for each and every formator to be aware of his own history. He should not deny, negate or even delete his history. It could be a history of his own personal brokenness. Here there is a call to also be aware of one’s scars. These could be physical or emotional scars. As clay, a formator is also a very fragile being. He is subject to sorrow, grief and tears; anger and need for vengeance, unforgiveness, frustrations, depression, loneliness, need for love, attention and affection; pain and suffering; obsessions, attachments and addictions. The good news is that though fragile we are yet God still calls us to this noble task. Our call is to remain open to God’s grace (“the divine operation”). It is only God who can transform our weaknesses into strength (2 Corinthians 12:10). Our weaknesses can become an occasion for the power of God.
Brother Augustine Mwape OFM Cap
3rd June 2018