17th Week, Thursday, Jul 30

Jeremiah 18:1-6 / Matthew 13:47-53
We are clay in God's hands: He fashions us like a potter.

Rembrandt was a 17th-century Dutch painter. He is still regarded as one of the world's greatest artists. Rembrandt's wife, Saskia, died in the midst of his career. Following her death, he went into a period of deep mourning, in which he didn't paint at all. Eventually he resumed painting again. When he did, he painted with a new power and passion. Some critics suggest that the death of his wife was a turning point in his career. It transformed him into an outstanding artist. Rembrandt's story illustrates how God can use tragedy to fashion us into something better than we originally were.

Do we believe God wants to make something beautiful of us?
"It is by those who suffer that the world has been advanced." Leo Tolstoy
When a ceramic or clay vessel is broken, it is of no use whatsoever. It ceases to be what it is made for and the only thing left to do is to discard it. But when it is first shaped and made, it was meant to be of service and to be used for what it is used for. It is like what we read in the 1st reading, the potter shapes the clay into the required shape and heat it at high temperatures that lead to permanent changes including increasing its strength and hardening and setting its shape. But just as in the turns and tumbles of life, clay vessels get cracked and broken and they are rendered useless and hence discarded.

The gospel parable also talks about discarding the catch of fish that are of no use. But that is the imagery of the end of time. Meanwhile, what is there for those people who are cracked and broken? We must remember that Jesus came for them. He came for sinners. The Japanese have a centuries-old art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer of powdered gold, silver or platinum. The cracks or breaks are seamed together beautifully with the lacquer, giving the once cracked and broken pottery a special and unique appearance. We can learn something from that. And then we can understand why Jesus is called Savior.
Thursday of 17th Week in Ordinary Time


Jeremiah looks at the work of a potter. If the potter sees his work is misshapen, he destroys it and tries anew. God’s people are clay in God’s hands. If they are not faithful, God will break them, but when they are converted he tries again with them and they become precious.
The parable about the net full of fish, good and bad, is very close to the parable heard a few days ago about the wheat and the weeds. It ends with the statement that the scribe in the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. Jesus came “not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to complete them.” Therefore the disciple, when he welcomes what is new, does not reject what is old. He treasures both.

Opening Prayer
Faithful God of tenderness and mercy,
you want us to be your people
on the march with Jesus your Son
toward the new future of justice and love
of your kingdom.
Do not allow us to suffocate in being contented
with old habits and sluggish ways.
Help us to accept the pain
of leaving the familiar behind us
and open us to today’s challenge of the gospel
to become more like your Son
who guides our faltering steps,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Once again Matthew includes a parable that speaks of the coexistence of good and evil, the worthy and the unworthy, within the community of believers. He further goes on to say that the community will contain new things and old, new departures as well as tradition. Like Israel, we too are like clay in the potter’s hands. He can fashion and mold us as he would. Of course, we are free to turn out well or badly, to be embraced or rejected. There are those in the Christian community who have separated themselves from the potter. Also, as the net is cast, some fish are good; others are not.
But we should never lose sight of the efficacy of prayer. Christ speaks of sheep who have strayed, yet have found their way home. Remorse and contrition are not that unusual. Evil ways can be left behind. If we keep the wanderers in our hearts and prayers, good things may yet appear.

Points to Ponder
Clay in the potter’s hands
Fashioned according to God’s will
Open to conversion

– For the Church, that it may be a voice and a force promoting justice and love among people and among nations, we pray:
– For the politicians and economists of our day, that they may reform national and international structures to give equitable access to all to the material and spiritual treasures of our world, we pray:
– For all of us, that we may live in the hands of God and let him mold us, even through trials, into better Christians, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
with bread and wine we celebrate
the covenant you renew with us
in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Make us indeed your new, faithful people
bound to you in an everlasting union of love.
Renew our hearts,
make us your new wine of joy and hope,
that we may rebuild this earth today
and march with your Son
toward your new heaven,
where you will be our God for ever.

Prayer after Communion
God of hope,
you have given us Jesus your Son
as our companion on the road
for understanding the old, familiar things
with a new and young heart
and for renewing ourselves and the world.
Let him prod us on
when we try to compromise
by merely patching up the old here and there;
let him curb our impatience
when we try to rush people
beyond their capacity for growth.
Lead us forward through our trusted guide,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

We must make the Lord visible today in a way our times understand and make our world more and more God’s world and kingdom. May you do so with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.