Friday, August 12, 2022


Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
/ Categories: Homilies

The Pearl of Great Price

Homily for Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Given our human weakness, it is easy to fall prey to a “woe is me” attitude. We have all known people who seem to be constantly whining; their work is unfulfilling or their relationships have faltered or their health is tenuous. They seem to be constantly exhausted or at odds with friends and family. To be sure, life can be difficult. No one is suggesting that it is easy. As the song goes, “no one promised you a rose garden.”

As we listen to Jeremiah today, it might be easy to accuse him of complaining or whining too much. However, I think there is a much deeper meaning to his lament, for his complaint is accompanied with a response from God. Does this mean that he actually heard God’s voice? Or is it possible that he is using this rhetorical form to teach us a lesson? The fact is that if anyone has a right to complain, it would be God. The number of people who have lived up to God’s covenant relationship with us completely is very few. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if God would list all of his complaints against us.

The fact is that God doesn’t do that. Despite the constant failings of those upon whom he has lavished his love, he has continued to show us his love, continued to stand by his promises.

The Gospel passage that we read today reminds us of the joy that can be found in following Jesus. St. Matthew compares it to a pearl of great price. When we think of the many men and women who have found that pearl, a careful study of their lives will reveal that they also endured many hardships. They did not, however, dwell on their difficulties; they simply moved ahead in their pursuit of the joy that can be found in following Jesus.

Today we remember Blessed Mary Magdalene Martinengo whose mother passed away when she was about five months old. It is said that because of her loss, she developed an intense religious devotion and prayer life. At the age of 18, she joined the Capuchin Poor Clares of Santa Maria della Neve in Brescia, Italy. She was professed in 1706 and spent the rest of her life in the convent. Her sisters recognized her holiness and prayer life. She served twice as prioress and served several years as novice mistress. Throughout her life, she worked to promote devotion to Christ Crucified, and used her own example to encourage penance and personal sacrifice for the Lord. In effect, she turned her loss into gain. She stands as an example to us of one who found her joy in following Jesus.

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