August 2, 2012 - Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time (II)

Jeremiah 18.1-6
Psalm 146.1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab Resp. 5a
Matthew 13.47-53

What does a potter do when a vase falls while they are making it? They take the clay and punch it and hit it and press it back into the humble ball that it began as, then they start over. There is a point when the vase starts to fall that the potter can just use a little pressure with their hands to correct the fault, but once the vase has fallen there is no point in simply trying to fix a little here or there.

But why did the vase fall in the first place? Was it the fault of a potter who did not know what they were doing? But the potter we are talking about is an expert. He is perfect. It was not the potter’s fault. Was it the fault of the clay, an imperfection in the material? But our potter made the clay. If the clay were faulty, what good would starting over be? If the clay were faulty, the only thing would be to throw it away.

But what if the clay had free will? Instead of responding instantly to the master’s touch, the clay resisted, insisted on going in some other direction. That would make the vase fall. The potter could be ever so gentle, but if the vase simply refuses to be guided by his hand, it will not become the work of art he has planned. It will collapse in on itself because it cannot stand without the potter’s support. Sure the potter could just give up trying to make a vase. If the potter would just settle for an ashtray like we used to make in elementary school, any lump of clay could get along in its disorder. But who is the lump to question the potter?

Is this true? Is God to us like a potter to a lump of clay? He says so. He says that he will not hold back destroying his work and beginning again if necessary. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” Except for one thing. Our potter loves us lumps of clay. He loves each of us. He will start over but he will not give up, at least not so long as there is hope. If my clay kept fighting me, I would throw it away, but even when we would give up on ourselves, God looks at us lumps and sees the magnificent vases that are possible.