Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Jeremiah 15:10.16-21; Matthew 13:44-46)
Ralph Powell was a Dominican priest known for eccentricity. He used to take two cups of coffee with him to his room every morning. His brothers in community would joke that the one was meant for him and the other for God. They did not doubt, however, that the priest had a close relationship with the Lord. He knew that he was blessed. Anytime -- on both good and bad days alike – he was asked how he was, he would respond, “Better than I deserve to be.” It is precisely such a relationship with God that Jesus refers to as the treasure a man discovers in a field and the fine pearl a merchant finds.
When Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like riches or a jewel, he means that knowing God surpasses anything a person has or does. Jesus’ preaching began with the proclamation, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; repent and believe.” Now he is making the claim that repentance is tantamount to selling everything one has. It is turning away not just from evil things but from good things as well that might distract us from pursuing a relation with God.
More likely than not, the good things that distract us need to be put in their place rather than discarded. We work too hard and should relax to pray more. We enjoy wine, chocolate, and beef, but a day of abstinence each week from these goods would make us more appreciative to the Lord. He is the one for whom we are to sacrifice everything.