30th July. Wednesday, Week 17.
Saint Peter Chrysologus.
Peter Chrysologus or the “golden-worded” (380-450) was Bishop of Ravenna, Italy from about 433 until his death. He was revered for his inspirational preaching and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1729.
1) Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
(The second lament of Jeremiah and the Lord’s reply.)
Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.
Therefore thus says the Lord: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.
Gospel: Matthew 13:44-46
(Sell all for the buried treasure and the priceless pearl.)
Jesus said to his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Ready for Radical Choices?
At crucial transitions in our life, and certainly at the hour of death, we have no choice but to exchange our possessions for the pearl of great price. Today’s gospel clearly calls for total consecration, and Jeremiah reflects this pure and total service of the Lord. We should be grateful for saints like him who force us to put our life into perspective and are led to esteem what is really valuable. During a bleak stretch of his life, Jeremiah composed his famous confessions. Today’s consists of a lament, which bringing his tragedy to God for a solution. Jeremiah even curses the day of his birth, “Woe to me, my mother, that you ever gave me birth.” When God replies, it is not to apologize for piling so much upon the back of the prophet. Rather, after wrestling with God as Jacob had wrestled with the angel (Gen 32:24), Jeremiah gets a wonderful promise of ongoing support, ” I am with you to save you and deliver you” says the Lord.
When Jesus asks us to stay detached from everything else for the sake of the one really valuable thing, he is asking for a radical choice in our lives. The most difficult moment for some might come in parting with the last of our possessions: our sense of success, our reputation for holiness, the control of our future. That is the keenest pain of a good person, called to be better.