The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.
What makes for a good fish or a bad fish? This should be an important question for us who seek to follow Christ and desire to be in heaven with him one day. On the day of judgment, we do not want to be cast out with the evil, but we want to be kept among the righteous. To fully understand this parable, one has to be like the master of the household who brings out both new and old treasure. In this instance, our great treasure, our key to understanding the new testament, is the old testament.
Jeremiah the prophet answers our question about what makes for a good fish. God calls Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s shop and watch him mold the clay. When the pot does not turn out as the potter would like, he smashes it down, starts over, moves one finger and makes an entirely new creation. God is the potter, and we are the clay. The secret to being a righteous fish is not to try to make ourselves righteous, but rather to be like the clay and make ourselves docile. When we give ourselves over to God and allow him to form us, he is the one who makes us good. We cannot do it on our own. This will cause to dry out and become rigid and shapeless clay. We need God to form us and make us good.
The only challenge in docility is that when we allow God to take over forming us, we do not always feel like we are making progress. Allowing ourselves to be clay in God’s hands does not feel good. It feels like being smashed down. It feels like being defeated at times. It feels like everything you felt you used to rely on, or everything you used to define yourself before, is being ground down and blown away. We have a tendency to blame ourselves at such times for things like lack of productivity, lack of forward motion, or not feeling good enough. But if we know that we have surrendered our lives to God, if we know that we have been obedient to God and follow his commands, if we know that we are praying daily and allowing God to orchestrate our days, then those feelings are our true signs of progress. To us, we may feel like shapeless clay, but to God, we are his creation in his hand. And as he works on us, he holds his hand out and keeps us from moving in one direction. He smooths out our rough edges. And when we are not turning out right, he has the ability to mold us into an entirely new creation.
Let us pray today for the grace to be a good fish. Let us allow ourselves to simply be clay. Let us pray for the grace to be docile to the Holy Spirit, allowing God to lead us where we would go and form us into who he wants us to be. May we all one day live among the righteous in the kingdom of heaven.