Deacon Steven M. Johnson – Homily for Ordinary Time – 17th Week, Thursday, 7-30-20
Year A – Optional Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus
Readings: 1st – Jer 18:1-6, Gospel – Mt 13:47-53
Theme: Allow Oneself to be Molded
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus
St. Peter was born in Imola, Italy in 380 AD.
He was made Bishop of Ravenna in Italy by Pope Sixtus III in 424 AD. He is known as the “Doctor of Homilies” for the concise, but theologically rich reflections he delivered during his time as the Bishop of Ravenna.
Peter merited being called “Chrysologus” or “golden worded” for his exceptional oratorical eloquence. He died in July of 450 AD in Imola, Italy and was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729.
I used to love forming things out of clay. We would get a stick of it in grade school and were told to do whatever we wanted with it. Some would smash it flat and make a pancake, others would roll it in their hands until they had a super long rope of clay. Others made round balls, squares, or ripped it apart and made several objects, sticking them all together in some arrangement that represented something you could never figure out, but it meant something to that person.
The funny thing about common clay is that it requires a very specific type of mineral, silica, and water. Hydrous Aluminum Phyllosilicate is the main mineral making up common clay. Adding a certain amount of water gives hydrous Aluminum Phyllosilicate its plasticity; in other words, the ability to be formed into a shape and hold that shape. Clay compound has a natural tight flat crystalline structure allowing it to hold moisture and giving it its smooth look and feel. Natural colors are infused, depending on where in the world it was mined. New Zealand is one of the more known places for commercial mining of clays. They have a very specific type of clay called “Kaolin Clay,” which is rich in a mineral known as Halloysite, which is pure white and used in porcelain and fine bone china.
Now, it is not my intention to give you a geologic lesson on clays but knowing a little about what makes up clay helps us understand the message God was giving to Jeremiah in the first reading.
God created all things and He has shaped them into individual works of art with His own hand. He has done so with us.
We can think of ourselves as a work of art made from clay. Some were formed on the wheel only one time and were perfect and complete. Others are continually being shaped and formed, allowing themselves to be molded over time into God’s final work of art. God can leave us be as He originally formed us or He can continually work us on the wheel, making our image perfect over time. We are completely dependent on God and His creating hand IF we let Him do His work and we don’t mess with the clay He used.
The problems come when we, through our own free will, start messing with the compound of clay God used to create us. As with clay, which breaks down when the specific type and amount of minerals, silica and water, is changed, so we also can break down. If the clay has too much water, it can’t hold its shape and falls in on itself or deforms on the potter’s wheel. If we allow clay to get infused with impurities such as rocks or a humous material such as peat, it can’t hold any shape and will not allow itself to be formed on the wheel at all. If there is not enough water or water is replaced with some other liquid such as oil, the clay is either too dry or soupy and loses its plasticity which then ends up like common dirt or mud, to be thrown out onto the potter’s compost pile.
Getting caught up in the secular world of relativism, ie: Pro Choice, Black Lives Matter’s agendas, then hate, despair, etc., can change our clay compound, adding impurities that render God’s creation into a useless pile of dirt and mud, or an object that can’t hold its shape or stay together when tested.
God is molding us into a new creation. When He feels His creation is complete, He will purify it by putting it into the furnace and testing its sturdiness. If the clay is good, the furnace will solidify that creation into a permanent object which is solid, useful, and beautiful. If not, and the clay is racked with impurities, the heat of the furnace will fracture the clay where the impurities are, and the creation will be destroyed and eventually thrown away.
We must be open to God’s plan, knowing that we may still be on the potter’s wheel being formed. Pray for God’s guidance, listen to His word and hold onto and practice it, no matter what challenges we may face. Being totally dependent on God allows His image of us to form, hold its shape and withstand the heat of the furnace that is this earthly world we live in. If we can do this, God’s image of us will be one in the beauty and likeness of Jesus Christ forever.