Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Pottery and Kite-Flying

Readings: Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 146:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab; Matthew 13:47-53

Survival in this world of ours necessitates constant change. Governments exhort citizens to be nimble, to learn to adapt as quickly as possible to global conditions that shift from second to second. We must keep moving towards the new or be left behind. But change, especially rapid change, produces anxiety. And in the midst of our daily struggles, we find ourselves yearning for some firm foundation, something stable and unchanging that can anchor us. Is this not why we are seeing a renewed interest in religion?

And yet, even in religion, one has to be careful how and where to cast one’s anchor. To be a Christian one also needs to be willing to change. Isn’t this an important aspect of the first reading? God calls the House of Israel to learn to be the clay in the hands of the divine potter, who sometimes wishes to start afresh and work it into another vessel. This is radical change.

Is there no consolation for us then? Is our yearning for a firm foundation doomed to remain unsatisfied? No. The readings speak not only of the new and the changing, but also of the old and the constant. Every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old. Even when the clay is refashioned into something drastically different, does it not remain the same piece of clay?

But there is more. Beyond simply an exhortation to change, the first reading is also an invitation to submit to the firm yet tender hand of the divine potter, even as He sometimes seems to break us. We are being called to let God be our only firm foundation.

I watched a play last weekend. The kite was its central metaphor. There are at least two essentials in kite-flying. The wind, of course, is needed to propel the kite. But one also needs a string to prevent its loss.

Today, how are we being called to submit to the divine potter? How are we being invited to let God be our wind and our string?

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