I’m in Charge Now


The Readings for Thursday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Numquid sicut figulus iste, non potero vobis facere, domus Israel? ait Dominus : ecce sicut lutum in manu figuli, sic vos in manu mea, domus Israel.

Cannot I do with you, as this potter, O house of Israel, saith the Lord? behold as clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 
Can the clay say aught to the potter about how it is formed or made, turned, glazed, carved, kilned? No. This is the grace of self surrender. 

When I was in my early 20s I knew everything. Also I worked in a bookstore, surrounded by so many books to read that I was constantly finding out ways that I could prove that I knew more about everything than I ever wanted to know.

In the middle of all this I sent a letter to my (ECUSAn) Parish Priest and announced that I was reneging on my Baptismal Vows. That was a rejection to which I held fast until my mid30s.  At which point there was a crisis of anti-faith and I came back to Church and was reconciled. At which point was God supposed to override my free will? If God enters into a covenant with me and I do not hold up my part of the bargain and, in fact, I walk away from the game, is God supposed to override my free will and loop me back into Church?

The Old Testament might best be called the “old testaments” for every time Israel broke faith with God he called her back and several times he re-covenanted with her. And yet it is all under the rubric of the Sinai covenant. God has remade and refashioned the covenant over and over again to make room for Israel. Even in the time when there was no Temple, when there was no ark, when there was no mercy seat, when there was no priesthood, when there was no sacrifice…

Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant and that the Church is the continuation of that action of constant reformation. Jews, naturally do not believe this. What we have here are two different sets of Rabbis dickering over the same set of scriptures and the interpretation thereof.

But God says, “I’m the potter…”

If we walk away from the covenant, does that mean the covenant is voided? Does God stay in charge?

This is a crucial question, if you’ll pardon the pun. The center of the conversation is at which point does one stop participating? When one stops attending at all? When one starts breaking rules? When one starts worshiping other deities? When one marries the wrong party? When one disavows participation? When one goes violently out of one’s own way to show that one has broken faith?

When God looks at Israel and says, “I’m the potter, shut up” does it mean that God is reshaping himself, or his covenant, or Israel herself?

The Gospel reading today says the the Kingdom of God is like a net that catches everyone. Only later do we figure out where the bad fish are.

Where do we go so wrong that we are no longer following God? Or does God try to work with everything we do, bringing us to him through all things; at the end only yielding when we keep fighting so long and so hard that it would damage us to make us stop?


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Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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