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What If I Messed Up God's Plan?

July 30, 2020  Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 404)

Reading 1   JER 18:1-6

This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Rise up, be off to the potter’s house;
there I will give you my message.
I went down to the potter’s house and there he was,
working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making
turned out badly in his hand,
he tried again,
making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
Can I not do to you, house of Israel,
as this potter has done? says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

 

Responsorial Psalm   146:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB

R.    (5a)  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live.
R.     Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Put not your trust in princes,
in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.
When his spirit departs he returns to his earth;
on that day his plans perish.
R.    Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Blessed he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God.
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R.    Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia   ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our heart, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel   MT 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old.”
When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

By Melissa Velez 

I taught confirmation classes for several years back in the early 2010’s. One of the things I remember high school teenagers stressing over the most was getting into college and choosing a major.

It’s a big source of stress.

I remember preparing for my own college journey. There were a few choices I had in front of me: should I continue my musical pursuits and major in instrumental performance? Should I channel my love of writing and reading and major in English Literature or Creative Writing? Or should I go with my longest and most sensible interest, elementary education? Ultimately I went with education, and it wasn’t until eight years after graduation and several teaching adventures later when I took a step back and put that career on hold.

It was a hard choice to make, and I began reflecting in that season on the pressure we put on teenagers to decide their future at such a young age. I made a decision at 18 that was supposed to be the track for the rest of my life, and when I decided to veer off that track I struggled with strong feelings of guilt and failure. They still crop up now when I am feeling particularly stressed or vulnerable. Some of the thoughts that occasionally come back into my mind are,

What if I made the wrong decision? What if I messed up my whole life? What if God had something else planned for me and I ruined it?”

Today’s reading from the Old Testament brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind once again. I read how the Lord called Jeremiah to the potter’s house and there He spoke to Jeremiah through the example of the potter. Notice Jeremiah observes that “whenever the object of clay [the potter] was making turned out badly, he tried again.” Whenever. Meaning that it was inevitable the clay would not always turn out as planned. And whenever this happened, the potter just made of the clay another object.

He didn’t have to start over, he didn’t give up, and there was no project that was given up as lost. 

At this point the Lord speaks to Jeremiah saying “like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand,” and what a comforting thought for my heart. Hearing this, I’m reminded of the very lesson it took me years to learn, and then in turn tried to convey to my confirmation students: there is no decision made with faith that the Lord cannot turn into something good. No matter what I’ve done, no matter what mistakes I feel I’ve made, the Lord is already working in my life to make everything turn out for the best. 

So many years after my own college journey, there are still important decisions I need to make to determine the course of my life. It’s comforting to be reminded through these scriptures that it is carefully being molded and remolded into something beautiful every day, gently and steadily, in the hand of the Lord.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Melissa Velez is from Southern California, born and raised, and a current Cincinnati, Ohio transplant. She has also lived in Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. A teacher by education, she now works in social services as a client advocate at St. Vincent de Paul. She is a lover of all things beautiful and educational, most especially poetry, the performing arts, and accomplishing her goal of visiting all 50 states (30 more to go!) Three things she is constantly craving: sushi, matcha lattes, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Her writing can also be found on the The Catholic Woman, Lifeteen, and NET ministries blogs.

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