SEPARATION OF THE WICKED FROM THE RIGHTEOUS
Jeremiah looks at the work of a potter. If the potter sees his work is misshapen, he destroys it and tries anew. God’s people are clay in God’s hands. If they are not faithful, God will break them, but when they are converted he tries again with them and they become precious.
The parable about the net full of fish, good and bad, is very close to the parable heard a few days ago about the wheat and the weeds. It ends with the statement that the scribe in the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. Jesus came “not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to complete them.” Therefore the disciple, when he welcomes what is new, does not reject what is old. He treasures both.
Faithful God of tenderness and mercy,
you want us to be your people
on the march with Jesus your Son
toward the new future of justice and love
of your kingdom.
Do not allow us to suffocate in being contented
with old habits and sluggish ways.
Help us to accept the pain
of leaving the familiar behind us
and open us to today’s challenge of the gospel
to become more like your Son
who guides our faltering steps,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Reading Jeremiah 18:1-6
This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message. I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel. 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. Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.
Responsorial Psalm 146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB
R. (5a) Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob. or: Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live. R.
Put not your trust in princes,
in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.
When his spirit departs he returns to his earth;
on that day his plans perish. R.
Blessed he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God.
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them. R.
Alleluia ACTS 16:14B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our heart, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Matthew 13:47-53
Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
Once again Matthew includes a parable that speaks of the coexistence of good and evil, the worthy and the unworthy, within the community of believers. He further goes on to say that the community will contain new things and old, new departures as well as tradition. Like Israel, we too are like clay in the potter’s hands. He can fashion and mold us as he would. Of course, we are free to turn out well or badly, to be embraced or rejected. There are those in the Christian community who have separated themselves from the potter. Also, as the net is cast, some fish are good; others are not.
But we should never lose sight of the efficacy of prayer. Christ speaks of sheep who have strayed, yet have found their way home. Remorse and contrition are not that unusual. Evil ways can be left behind. If we keep the wanderers in our hearts and prayers, good things may yet appear.
– For the Church, that it may be a voice and a force promoting justice and love among people and among nations, we pray:
– For the politicians and economists of our day, that they may reform national and international structures to give equitable access to all to the material and spiritual treasures of our world, we pray:
– For all of us, that we may live in the hands of God and let him mold us, even through trials, into better Christians, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
with bread and wine we celebrate
the covenant you renew with us
in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Make us indeed your new, faithful people
bound to you in an everlasting union of love.
Renew our hearts,
make us your new wine of joy and hope,
that we may rebuild this earth today
and march with your Son
toward your new heaven,
where you will be our God for ever.
Prayer after Communion
God of hope,
you have given us Jesus your Son
as our companion on the road
for understanding the old, familiar things
with a new and young heart
and for renewing ourselves and the world.
Let him prod us on
when we try to compromise
by merely patching up the old here and there;
let him curb our impatience
when we try to rush people
beyond their capacity for growth.
Lead us forward through our trusted guide,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
We must make the Lord visible today in a way our times understand and make our world more and more God’s world and kingdom. May you do so with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!