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Thursday, July 30, 1998

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St. Peter Chrysologus

Jeremiah 18:1-6
Psalm 146
Matthew 13:47-53

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pounding the clay

"Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand." —Jeremiah 18:6

God the Father is the Potter, and we are the clay. Many people consider this a beautiful, even consoling, image. This may be true, but this perception may indicate an incomplete understanding of this Biblical image. When Isaiah brings up the image of God the Potter, he adds: "Be not so very angry, Lord, keep not our guilt forever in mind" (see Is 64:7-8). When Jeremiah uses the same image, he adds the following words of God: "Sometimes I threaten to uproot and tear down and destroy a nation or a kingdom" (Jer 18:7). God, the Father-Potter, appears to be a very forceful and even violent Potter, pounding the clay.

God doesn't pound, press, compress, pull, and cut the clay because He is rough, but because we are rough. Because of our sins, we need a lot of work. Also, God pounds the clay because His pottery-making is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. For example, it is an act of love to violently push someone out of the way of an oncoming car. So too it is a great act of love for the Potter to make extreme modifications to the clay, if necessary for salvation. It is a fearful and wonderful thing to fall into the hands of the Father-Potter (see Heb 10:31).

Prayer:  Father-Potter, do with me what You must in order to do through me what You will.

Promise:  "They hauled it ashore and sat down to put what was worthwhile into containers. What was useless they threw away. That is how it will be at the end of the world." —Mt 13:48-49

Praise:  Peter's primary tool in teaching was the short sermon, designed to quickly penetrate the hearts of his hearers, but not fatigue them. His sermons were so powerful and anointed that many of them are still surviving today, over 1500 years after his death.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 29, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 2, 1997