Homily for Thursday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB; Matthew 13:47-53

In today’s gospel reading Jesus speaks of the final judgement in a parable. As fishermen, many who first heard these words of Jesus were very familiar with the scenario he described. In their daily work, the fisherman casts a net until it was full of fish and later sorts out which fish are good enough to eat or sell and which must be discarded. 

Just as the fisherman separates the good fish from the bad, Jesus will separate sin and evil from his church, the world, and our communities at the end of time. Until then, the good and the bad will continue to exist as part of our fallen world. 

What we must keep in mind is that the work of separating the good fish from the bad, the sheep from the goats, is not our work to do. This is God’s work and it will happen at the end of time. In fact, our job is simply to pull in the catch, witnessing with our lives God’s love for everyone, including those who do not share our faith, our morals or our values. 

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of being convinced of our own righteousness and call out the wickedness of anyone who does not agree with us. Sadly, within our Church, our country, and our families, we often hear proclaimed this false sense of being “on the right side” of theology, politics, or a family conflict. We look down on those who we see as being hypocrites or those who are obviously under the influence of the evil one. 

One of the devil’s favorite tricks is to get us to focus on the speck in our brother’s eye while we ignore the plank in our own. Rather than lamenting the state of the world, we should turn to God and ask for the grace to pursue our own holiness and root out our own sin, rather than being preoccupied with the sins of others. 

In our first reading, God led the prophet Jeremiah to the potter’s house, where he observed the potter remaking the clay into a new vessel when it turned out badly. We are that clay, as is every person who has ever lived. 

As the divine potter, God will continually try to rework us into the vessel he wants us to be. Just as a potter doesn’t throw out the clay, God is constantly reworking us until we finally dry out and are unable to be shaped any further. Of course I’m speaking of the time of our death. Until then, we are all capable of repenting and being reshaped by Him.

No matter how far we have progressed in our spiritual lives, we are all in need of repentance, of being reshaped into that perfect vessel God has in mind for us. Each of us has characteristics of the good fish and the bad fish. Our job is to cooperate with God so that those sinful characteristics of our own lives can be healed and transformed into that perfect vessel. As WE are shaped and changed, our lives will better reflect God’s love and he will more effectively reach and inspire others through us.

So the next time we have the urge to complain about the state of the world, about those who we see as hypocritical or just plain evil, let us turn our gaze inward. Let us ask God what needs to be reshaped in OUR lives so that we may become more and more like Jesus to everyone we meet, both the good fish and the bad fish. When we pray for sinners, let us pray first for ourselves, knowing that we are all sinners and in need of God’s mercy.