July 30, 2014

Thursday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time

Today's Memorial: Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Pray for wisdom when selecting reading material:
wordbytes.org/saints/DailyPrayers/IgnatiusLoyola.htm

Today’s Readings: July 31, 2014
Jeremiah 18:1-6
Psalm 146:1b-6ab
Matthew 13:47-53
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073114.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_07_31.mp3

Are you soft clay in God's hands?

What in your life has turned out badly? Think of something that started out well – it looked very promising for a while – but it ended in failure. God says in today’s first reading that this is only clay. He can reshape it into something beautiful and useful. It's not disastrous.Our sins and failures and bad endings are tossed away like the junk that was collected in the dragnet of today’s Gospel reading. The impurities in our clay have contributed to the warping of our spirits and the distortions or our perceptions, but if we ask God to purify us, the impurities are pulled out by his careful fingers, no faster than we can handle it, and he throws them aside.

And if our new pot still turns out misshapen, God refines us to a greater degree. If you've been feeling like you're under fire, it's probably the fires of purification. Believe it or not, you're becoming holier. As long as you want to become a beautiful vessel of God's love, the heat of your trials is not destroying you; it’s purifying you.

We can help God form a wonderful, new pot by giving him no resistance. Our shape is perfected more easily if we let him spin us on his potter's wheel instead of being hard and firm in wanting to decide how and when our lives should change.

Furthermore, as we apply this to what Jesus said about the Godly scribe, we discover that the best pot is produced when we let him combine our old material with new clay and fresh water and his own coloring dyes and whatever else he wants to add into it.

God never lets anything go to waste. Many years ago, I thought I'd messed up God's plans for my life by taking a job that was not totally in keeping with his values. I quit after my conscience bothered me for several months, and I regretted that I had misspent so much time. However, God later gave me the opportunity to use the skills I had learned in doing that job, now using them for the work of his kingdom. In fact, as I let him shape my application of these skills, their usefulness for his plans has continued to increase over the years.

When we allow God to make us anew according to his desires, trusting in his expert shaping skills, giving him everything we've done in the past – the good and the bad – and when we invite him to add into our lives whatever he chooses, everything that had previously been a failure becomes a lovely earthen vessel that holds many treasures.

You'll know it's happened when what's inside your pot blesses others. God does not reshape us only for our own benefit. As he works with our clay, he's thinking of how he can build a pot that will benefit the whole Church as well as the world in which we live. We are that important! Being pliable clay in God's hands is that valuable!

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections

July 29, 2014

Wednesday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: July 30, 2014
Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
Psalm 59:2-4,10-11,17-18
Matthew 13:44-46
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073014.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_07_30.mp3

Finding hidden treasures

Like the author of today’s first reading, we believe that God's Word brings us joy, but when we're in the middle of problems that were caused by our sins and we don't know how to undo the damage, or when shame cripples us, we feel unhappily crushed by the truth. We feel stricken down by the weight of the burden.

"Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?"

God answers: "If you repent, I will restore you .... If you bring forth only what is precious and not the vile...."

We lose our joy when God's instructions are contrary to our self-centered, worldly (and therefore vile) ideas of what is right and good for us. We turn away from him and then wonder why we feel alone. When someone hurts us, we justify our anger and, in our lack of forgiveness, we complain that God is not helping us.

The pearl in today’s Gospel reading can be any truth. Although it's always precious, if we don't see the pearl's value (because we prefer a sinful alternative), we toss it aside as worthless. To discover the beauty of any truth that we dislike, we need to humbly open ourselves to a new perspective.

I learned this from my son when he was four. David thought he'd found the jackpot of all treasure caches when we came upon a clearance table in the local toy store. I told David he could buy anything priced under $2. With as much careful decision-making as a tot could muster, he began rummaging and examining. He chose a scratched-up, much-abused, hand-size pinball game. It wasn't worth the asking price of 25 cents.

I suggested other toys that were in better condition. He looked at me with exasperation. Why couldn't I see that this pinball game was the only real treasure on the table?

It turned out to be a great purchase. David took it everywhere – to bed, to the dinner table, to the bathroom. He also carried a baby rattle he'd recently found in some forgotten cranny of the house. That rattle had bored him in earlier years. Now when it was outdated and useless, it became one of his treasures.

To find the treasures that will bring us great joy, we have to ignore the preferences of our worldly flesh-nature and dare to trust God in his Word. We have to look for precious pearls in the redemption that Jesus brings to our sins. Great wisdom can be gained by asking: "Why am I bothered by this sin? What does it say about my desire for growth?" What a beautiful hidden treasure!

For more humorous stories like this from my early parenting days, see my Cross Connections:
http://wordbytes.org/CrossConnect/index.html

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections