"Useless as a Broken Pot"
March 29, 2023, 6:00 AM

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
my eye is consumed with sorrow,
and also my throat and my belly…
My strength fails me because of affliction,
and my bones are consumed.

I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am as useless as a broken pot.

Psalm 31:9,10b,12


St. Francis could have easily written this psalm. After returning from war and imprisonment in his twenties, St. Francis was afflicted with blindness, severe gastro-intestinal issues, and progressive weakness. He died in poverty at an early age of 44. While his body might have felt as useless as a broken pot, he certainly was not forgotten like a dead man. St. Francis was remembered by the church two years after his death through canonization.


For Jesus, there was no great remembrance. After riding into Jerusalem on a donkey in a royal procession with palms laid before him, Jesus, in a mere five days, would make the journey from being proclaimed a “king” by the people to becoming a forgotten “broken pot” among the dead. No great canonization awaited him as was there for St. Francis. However, Jesus and St. Francis both underwent what many of us undergo as we near the end of our life – questioning the entire experience of life itself.


We have the impression that Jesus was different from us in that he also was God. Not so. Jesus experienced fully what it was to question his entire existence. He was fully human. Yet, he was completely focused on God while being fully human. He cried, bled, became thirsty, experienced physical weakness, and wanted to return to the days of a young child where he had the energy to play for hours. Jesus remembered the people he loved and who had died before him. He longed to reconnect with his friends and relatives. Jesus was wearied and tired from preaching, and frustrated by having so few people understand him. He was saddened by the tears of those who had no heart for others.


We are all on a similar journey while growing old, becoming wrinkled, and inhaling weakness as easily as a new virus. However, if we allow it, the aging process in our lives reveals the possibility of a clear and wonderful perspective of a new creation. Christ answers the question of what our aging and death is all about. When experienced in Christ, we are new creatures. Death no longer has the final word – now or in the future. Jesus and St. Francis both fully knew that truth.


With this final week of Lent upon us, remember that no matter what you are facing, you have nothing to fear. Christ has overcome the fear of aging, death, and all our unanswered questions.


May the prayer of St. Teresa of Ávila (1550-1582 AD) anchor the wisdom of being fearlessly centered in Christ:


Let nothing disturb you. / Let nothing upset you. / Everything changes. / God alone is unchanging. / With patience all things are possible. / Whoever has God lacks nothing. / God alone is enough.


God has you! There is nothing to fear, even death itself.


Blessings and Prayers in these final days of Lent.

Fr. John