2 Tim. 2:20-26
The apostle Paul writes, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.”
Gold is gold, and it will never become clay, just like clay will never become gold. Well, does each person have their own destiny predetermined? And is a righteous man righteous only because he was made that way? Can’t a sinner ever change, either? Why then does the Heavenly Shepherd leave ninety-nine sheep for the one that is lost? Why does the heavenly Father call all of us to be perfect, without exception?
The apostle Paul, too, calls upon the clay to become gold, “If a man therefore purge himself from these”, that is, the things which are strange to God, he writes, “he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Paul also gives the gold vessels advice on how to remain gold, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” He further suggests, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” so that God might also allow them to stop being earthen vessels, and become vessels of gold and silver.
We hear in today’s Gospel that the Lord Himself wept over Jerusalem, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” But “the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” There is no weeping over the clay because it cannot become gold! People cry over something that could and should have become quite different but didn’t.
But if it is possible for a person to change, then why does the Word of God offer such images of the righteous and the wicked as different types of soil, or different vessels, which preclude changing to the opposite? This must be in order to make the wicked terrified of the final petrification and decay that awaits him. Also, it is meant for the righteous to be also scared by looking into the abyss which he had miraculously escaped, but which is always ready to consume him if he makes any misstep.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds