Clay in the hand of the potter can only be reworked for as long as it remains moist and malleable. As the clay dries out it hardens and can no longer be re-formed. The human heart when moistened and softened by the tears of compunction and sorrow can also be reworked by grace and re-formed in purity and likeness to God. However, when life’s struggles and discouragement take their toll, we can lose hope so that our tears dry up and the heart, like clay, becomes hard and unmalleable. Although the spiritual gift of tears can mean literal tears, there are also those deeper inner tears that don’t run down the face of the penitent, but pour over the heart in silent inner anguish of spirit. Typically, they are felt as a deep longing for wholeness, freedom from the slavery of sin, and that union in love with Christ that seems to constantly elude us. So let us not lose hope but carefully cultivate this deep longing together with the inner tears that soften and open our hearts to saving grace. Or, expressed via a different metaphor, let us heed Saint Gregory the Great’s comment on today’s gospel parable: The fish, when they have been caught, cannot be changed; but we, who are caught while we are wicked, can become good. Let us bear this in mind as we are in the process of being caught, lest [later] we be thrown aside on shore.