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Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As we sit with the Word today, I am wondering, ‘what am I supposed to do?’  I’m confused; In the first reading, Jeremiah hears the Lord describing Israel (and us) as a lump of clay that hasn’t turned out right.  The potter can remake it.  We’ve all heard we are clay and God is the divine potter.  So, as clay, what I am supposed to do besides sit here all wet and slippery?  In the gospel, we members of the Kingdom are like all the sea creatures caught in a net.  The fisherman will separate the good from the bad, just like the angels will at the end of the age.  What am I supposed to do, because get caught in a net?

We get one hint from the psalm; Praise the Lord, and don’t waste your trust on people, princes, or politics.  There’s no salvation in the plans and hopes of people, no matter how well meaning they may be.   Our mighty God, creator of heaven and Earth, is the one who will help and save us from our distress.  So as the clay, I need to praise and trust in God.  It sounds simple, but this is something we Catholics often miss.  Praising God from our hearts reminds us of our true place in the world.  We are loved by a Spirit much larger, more powerful, and better than us.  God is the author of justice and righteousness and truth, and that same God is “Our Father.”  When we praise him, this reality moves from our minds to our hearts, and helps us fully trust in the One.

We get another hint from the second part of the gospel: ‘every scribe instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven is like one bringing new and old from his store-room.’  After many years of searching for God, reading scripture, and devouring the good catechesis of our Tradition, we may ‘know’ a lot about divinity and Jesus’s work in the world.  But we also have a Spirit of Wisdom that tells us what to bring to the suffering world.  In a given moment, does a person need something “old,” like the magnificence and mystery of our Holy Tradition?  Or does that person need something “new,” like a loving and merciful embrace that reminds them of our Lord’s intimate companionship?

We do not make ourselves, and we do not make the Kingdom.  God is the creator of both.  We trust.  We talk about it.  We cooperate with God.  We allow and beg the Spirit to act through us.  It’s not passive; it’s action that keeps our ego from getting in the way.  Today, let us ask our father, “what am I supposed to do,” and allow God’ answer to be fulfilled in our day, no matter what it may be.


- Chris Nieport