In Earthen Vessels
Today is the Memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus who was Bishop of Ravenna, Italy in 433 AD. He fought paganism and heresy prevalent in his day. He preached with such wonderful eloquence and language skills that he was called Chrysologus because of his “Golden Words.” The strength of his sermons (176 have survived) led Pope Benedict XIII to declare him Doctor of the Church in 1729.
Today’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is a familiar story. The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s home. As the potter was working at the wheel, if the object he was making turned out badly, he tried again. Then the Lord said: “Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?’
Yes, we are like clay in the potter’s hand if we allow ourselves to be molded and shaped into the image of God we were created to be. This Scripture reminded me of Earthen Vessels, John Foley’s beautiful reflection on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians:
“We hold a treasure not made of gold. In earthen vessels, wealth untold. One treasure only: the Lord, the Christ, in earthen vessels.”
When we yield our will to the potter’s hand, we become the vessels of Jesus in the world. We are called to bring the kingdom of peace, hope and love into a strife-torn world. This kingdom is the reign of God which Matthew describes as a dragnet thrown into the sea. When it is full, it is hauled to the shore where what is good and worthwhile is kept and what is useless is thrown away. It is not the work of the disciples to judge others. That is not our work either. God must decide between good and evil. It is our responsibility to decide if we are acting as a worthy vessel of Jesus or if we need to be reshaped by the loving hands of the master potter.
Pittsburgh Passionist Associate