Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Junk on the Bottom

When I was a child I used to love going fishing with my dad.   I remember one particular trip in which we used a net to gather shad to use as 'live' bait.  My dad would stand on the front of the boat working patiently to get the net just right in his hand.  Then he'd throw it out in a graceful arc and it would land open in the water.  He'd try to teach us to do the same but I was never patient, always rushing and just ended up throwing a clump of string into the lake.  Then we would draw it back in.   Sometimes it would have shad in it.  At other times a piece of tree branch, some algae, slime, or even the occasional piece of garbage.  There is something about going out and doing something together with a parent that just builds memories.

To me this parable from Jesus reminds us of our own spiritual lives.  God loves us just as we are, and asks us to come as we are.   The thing is: He loves us too much to leave us there.   He wants us to grow.  To become more Holy.  To become Saints.  Our lives are often like a net.  Everything that we are dragged by leaves an impression, a memory.   What we listen to, what we see, what we read... all of this influences our mind, our memory.  It is indiscriminate on what it picks up.  A detail here, a smell there, a vision here.  We need to be vigilant in seeking out those things which are good for us, and avoiding that which is bad.  We spiritually have to search through our nets looking for that which is food, and discarding that which is not.

The other thing that I think is probably most important is to remember that we are not the Master.  We are but servants on the boat.  Like my dad on the boat when I was so young, we aren't even able to cast the net without His help.   It is Christ who teaches us how to sort through this mess called life.   He is the one who can see clearly from above, while we are stuck with our simple tunnel vision.  He teaches us through the Church, through the Sacred Scriptures, and through holy women and men how to live this life to it's fullest.  That's why it is so important to spend time with Him.  To learn from Him.  To get in the boat and ask questions.   To sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary and just rest with the King of Kings.

The Old Testament reading for today talks about a potter working with clay.  Clay is hard to work with when it's dry and cracked, but if you add enough water to it, it will become supple and giving.  Are you being clay?  Or stone?  Are you listening to the voice of the Lord and being pliant and bending to give way to His will?  Or are you struggling against it?   Fighting to keep your own way?  Enough water and it will feel like you are drowning.. the trials of this life often feel that way don't they?   Those trials are opportunities to be molded.. to grow... to push out those things which are standing in the way of being good clay.   Don't let the voice of the enemy convince you that you are part of the refuse, the junk caught in the net that needs to be thrown away.  You are called to be a Saint!  Don't think of that as something meant for someone else!  It's for YOU!  It's for me!  Let's do this together!

Being a Saint doesn't mean being perfect.. it doesn't mean never making a mistake or falling... what it does mean is being open to the molding of God and growing.. it means not staying as we are.. but growing towards Heaven.  It means trying! Will you try with me?  I want to go to Heaven and I want you to be there with me!  We are more complete together!  Remember when you start to feel like you aren't worthy, when you start to feel like you are part of the junk, that when my dad would see something that he wanted to throw back.. I often saw a treasure, something I could make into something.. something that my child like eyes saw as important and worth notice.   Have a child like faith in God, because He saw enough in you to send His only Son to die in your place, that you might be able to spend eternity with Him.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time: July 28th, 2016.  Jeremiah 18:1-6, Psalm 146, A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 13:47-53