Thursday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time Year 2
(Jer 18:1-6; Mt 13:47-53)
A story was told by Leslie Flynn about the legend of an angel who, at the start of a church construction project, announced he would award a prize to the person who made the most significant contribution to the finished product. Everyone worked hard, wanting to win-the architect, the contractor, the craftsmen, the artists, the clergy, and the carpenters. The winner turned out to be an elderly peasant woman who everyday carried hay to the ox that pulled the stones for the stonecutters. (taken from “Journey” by David Jeremiah, p.27). Little things mean a lot especially when these little things will contribute to the whole. Sometimes the minute things are not noticed in some of our gigantic undertakings but they are significant to complete a whole project. The readings today speak of the same paradigm. Jeremiah related his experience of God when he was commanded to go to the potter’s shop and to witness individual things like the clay, the hand, the potter, water, and the mind of the potter put together to complete a pot. Witnessing how things are done by the potter shall the Lord give His message to him. The combination of varied materials can form a finished material-the pot. Likewise, the parable of the net speaks also of individual fish caught in it to illustrate a huge success in fishing. Without the individual fishes, there will be no big haul of fish or abundant catch of fish. Let us look into the readings today where God uses tangible elements to complete His message.
1. Place- God reveals His message and unfolds His plans in a concrete place. God’s messages are associated with places. God called Abraham so he left Ur and headed toward Canaan. Moses witnessed the burning bush at Horeb. The Prophet Elijah went to Mount Sinai and Horeb after hiding in a cave and God sent message to him. Jesus was Transfigured in Mount Tabor and He revealed His divinity to Peter, James and John. St. Paul received revelation from God en route to Damascus. So true with the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading today. God commissioned Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house and witness how pots are created. The prophet went as the Lord said “Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message.” The potter’s house becomes symbolic of the world where man lives, called, and is shaped by God. Man’s life will be molded by God’s hand like the hand of the potter on the clay. The potter’s house as concrete venue of God for Jeremiah, we assert that God seeks ways to bring about His message and He becomes tangible to man because He reveals Himself in concrete place. Besides, He illustrates the Kingdom of God in concrete examples. In the Gospel today we were told that Jesus used the sea as a concrete example where the world is likened to. Like the sea where various fish live, so is the world comprised with the good and the bad. Jesus reveals then that the judgment of God will transpire in a concrete place and time. Let us always be mindful that God reveals Himself in places and times.
2. Object- messages may be carried out by words or actions but they are also carried out in concrete things. We speak of the burning bush, the tablets of the commandments, the ark of the covenant, the blind, the mute, the Cross, the empty tomb, the bread, the fish, the wine, etc. God uses elements of the earth to reveal messages or even identifies Himself with. Like the Eucharist, Benedict XVI says: “the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself.” (SC 1) The Prophet Jeremiah saw the clay in the hands of the potter. “Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again,making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.” We are likened to a clay who are shaped according to God’s desire. We are called to be obedient and open to God’s will like the clay which is dependent on the potter’s hand. In the Gospel, Jesus used the image of fish to describe the people of the world. Like the fisherman who hauls his catch, so will the Kingdom of God be. The fisherman separates the good fish from those that may not be edible. So will it be with God at the end of the age who separates the good and the evil ones.
3. Means- God uses a method to convey His message. In the Old Testament, we find several instances where God used calamities to humble the proud, sickness to make the obstinate obey, the weak kings of Israel to demonstrate that God is the true King and various people as intruments of God’s word like the prophets. In the New Testament, Jesus employed stories to reveal the Kingdom of God, cured the sick and raised the dead to demonstrate that the Messiah has already come, entered the Synagogue to reveal that the word now has been fulfilled in Him, finally the Paschal Mystery was the ultimate means for Jesus to redeem the world. In the same manner, the Prophet Jeremiah witnessed the hand of the potter as an important means in the shaping of the pot. The hand carries out the mind of the potter. Like the potter’s hand, God’s hand shapes us in life. His hand may be in the form of an event, a person, a situation, time, space, or any means which God employs to convey His divine message. Jesus, too in the Gospel today used the image of the net as a way for us to understand the end times and the Kingdom of God. The net is the means for a fisherman to fish and this illustrates the judgment of God at the end of the age where all of us will not escape the judgment of God.