Caught In The Act Of Life
Sooner or later, every child gets caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. This pivotal moment is unpleasant for both child and parent. The wise and just parent, who rewards good behavior, must now discipline their beloved child; and the child, must receive, and hopefully learn, the consequence of disobedience.
From the parent’s perspective, something painful but very wonderful, has happened. Their child is one step closer to acquiring a righteous character. The child, of course, cannot perceive the parent’s Good in this moment –he only can see what he desires. Growing up is hard to do. Raising a child is incomparably harder. This is not surprising, as parenting is the task of God.
This snapshot of Life, from God’s perspective, can unfold in only two ways: the child will choose to live for God, or, for Self. The Man-Child will become Righteous, as in the image of his God; or Lost, as in his own self-created image. The Man-Child has but one Life to be Judged, and the code of judgment will not be of the Man-Child’s Arrogance, but of God’s Truth –for the reward of a Righteous Life is Eternal Light, and the Consequence of living for Self is Eternal Darkness.
This is what Jesus’ parable of the fishnet (MT 13:47) is about. All the fish in the Net of Judgment were caught in the act –in Act of Life. The Just, or Righteous, were gathered and saved. Those who were not of God, the Wicked, were thrown away. Jesus concludes, “This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace were there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” This is a sobering Truth that the world, and even many in our Church, either deny, or refuse to talk about.
It is a painful Truth to ponder. It causes us to wonder how the Just are deemed Righteous and saved; and how the Wicked are judged as Lost and thrown into the fire. For, all of us have been caught -many times- with our fingers in the cookie jar, and as many times, we promised not to do it again. We do not know how we are judged -Righteous or Wicked, but we do know what is righteous or wicked.
The Holy Spirit has given our Church the wisdom to connect Jesus’ parable of the fishnet with Jeremiah’s story of the potter’s wheel (JER 18:1). Jeremiah watches the Potter form the clay on the spinning wheel. When the clump of clay gets out of control, when it takes a form that is not congruent with the Potter’s Dream, the clump gets smacked down, and the Potter starts anew. God then speaks to Jeremiah, “Yes, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, House of Israel.”
God, the Good Parent, disciplines the child he loves. As long as we live, as long as the Wheel of Life still spins, God will give us another chance to be formed into His Image. When we sin, when we choose to live according to Our Desires -in opposition to his Dream for us- we become disfigured, and in our sin, the Potter’s Hand of Mercy smacks us down. We are, of course, usually blind to the Good in that Moment of Mercy, but something wonderful has just taken place. We have been given another chance to become a Faithful Vessel of God’s Love –to live according to his Perfect Plan for us.
We are given two stories of Truth: the parable in Matthew, of God’s Judgment; and the story in Jeremiah, of God’s Mercy –how do they co-exist? Is the Clump of Clay eternally destined according to its form in that moment when the Wheel of Life stops? Do I commit a sin of presumption –by banking on God’s Mercy? If I say, ‘I am sorry’ knowing I will probably do it again, am I really sorry, can I expect Forgiveness? I do not know the answers to these questions. But, I do know what is expected of me, and, that in the end, the path I choose in this Life will lead to my Eternal Judgment.Lord, I want to be Faithful. I want to live for you –in Truth and Love. Do not let me wander from you. Do whatever it takes. I am hopelessly distracted by anxieties and selfish desires, and I can deceive myself for a whim. Who I am, and who I want to be, are blurred by sin. Holy Spirit, give me Eyes clarified by Truth, set them like flint, on my Lord Jesus. Father, I acknowledge your Mercy as I confess my lowliness. Jesus, by the Blood of your Cross, my Sins have been swallowed –consumed and forgotten. I will follow you, by the Light of your Holy Spirit, into the Bosom of our Father. This is my prayer. Lord, you are my Hope.