By Archbishop Henry D’Souza
Jeremiah is told by the Lord to go to the potter’s house and there he will get a message. He goes down and sees what is happening. The potter wants to make a vessel but it does not turn out well, so he breaks it and starts again. Then the Lord said to Jeremiah, “Haven’t I the right to do with the people of Israel what the potter did with the clay. You are in my hands just as the clay is in the potter’s hand.” (Jere.18/5-6)
Who would deny this absolute right of God? God could say to each of us, “Have I not the right to do with you as the potter did with the clay. Human persons may not sufficiently appreciate their dependence on God. They will admit God’s power over all creation and yet when that power is manifested, there could be loud protests. We experienced this fact a year ago. When the Tsunami hit the Indian Ocean and the earth quaked and gigantic waves destroyed houses and lands, and took people to a watery grave, we could hear the outcry of people, “How can God do so? Is there a God? Can God be so cruel? Why did he allow this to happen?”
God is the divine potter. Whatever happens in our lives is part of his plan. Many times his plans and ours do not coincide. We also must not think that material loss or ill health or suffering indicates God’s anger. We have to obey God’s law and then all the rest that happens in our lives, is to be received as part of God’s plan. Mary and Joseph lived that faith. There was suffering when they had to move to Bethlehem. There was joy when the shepherds and Majis came. There was uncertainty when there was no room in the inn. There was anxiety when they had to flee to Egypt. But every event was part of God’s plan. Joseph and Mary accepted whatever happened. When they could not understand, they pondered the events in their hearts.
Perhaps this is the message we are receiving today. It is an invitation for us, an invitation to live by faith. So many things seem to go wrong. We seem helpless in front of powers beyond our control. It is the time to reflect and ponder in our hearts. We need to realise every day that God is the divine potter and he is shaping our lives according to his plans.
There was a time when Catholic families would gather every day to say the rosary together. The family rosary was a beautiful event by which the family admitted God’s guidance in their lives. It accepted the joys and the sorrows, the successes and the disappointments. The rosary together was time spent in thanksgiving for what the Lord was doing in their lives. However, in today’s world, the social structures, the advent of television, the distractions of modern society make it very hard for families to gather together in common prayer. Yet our lives depend on God’s favour. We need to reflect on how to bring back some order into our homes. Should we not fix a time for family prayer, preferably before the family meal? It could be an occasion to thank God for his protection and an act of trust in his loving providence over us.
We often sing the hymn, “All to Jesus I surrender”. Surrendering all into his hands is the most valuable strength we have. We know that we are precious to him and his hands are those of love. He is the divine potter. All that he makes is beautiful and wonderful if only we allow him. May be the Lenten season is the time for us to meaningfully pray the hymn:
All to Jesus I surrender
All to him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
In his presence daily live
I surrender all, I surrender all
All to thee O blessed Saviour
I surrender all.