July 31, 2019 – Wednesday 17th Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola
From the Book of Exodus (34:29-35)
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant
while he conversed with the LORD.
When Aaron, then, and the other children of Israel saw Moses
and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become,
they were afraid to come near him.
Only after Moses called to them did Aaron
and all the rulers of the community come back to him.
Moses then spoke to them.
Later on, all the children of Israel came up to him,
and he enjoined on them all that the LORD
had told him on Mount Sinai.
When he finished speaking with them,
he put a veil over his face.
Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to converse with him,
he removed the veil until he came out again.
On coming out, he would tell the children of Israel
all that had been commanded.
Then the children of Israel would see
that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant;
so he would again put the veil over his face
until he went in to converse with the LORD.
From the Gospel of Matthew (13:44-46)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Why do people work so hard? Is it not because of the dream to be contented and happy? Why do men and women search for a true love? Is not also because of the hope of being happy in life? Why do we search for what makes us happy? Is it not because that we are designed to be happy?
Undeniably, we are in search of something that will make our life happy and joyful. Each of us would dream that kind of life. However, in the process of searching, we also encounter failures and disappointments. Yet, we always wake up to achieve what we desire for our life. Our instinct is to search and gain a life of happiness and peace and joy not just for ourselves alone but also for the people whom we love.
Our Gospel today presents to us two parables that tell us about this desire of finding and possessing something of great value in life. This is something that a person who would do everything just to attain this something of great value.
The first parable tells us of the grace of God that surprises us. The person was actually not conscious in searching for a treasure. However, the person just found it and later on did everything just to possess it because he was convinced that it was of great importance. He was willing to sell everything he has just to gain that treasure. Certainly, God also loves to surprise us. Joy is truly a gift given to us.
The second parable tells us of a person consciously searching for a pearl of great price. This search comes from that desire to have a blessed life of peace and joy. Indeed, along the way of our search, great difficulty may be experienced. However, God also leads us to discover His gift for us when we persistently ask for that. God would truly bless a heart that desires Him.
And when a person finally finds his or her joy in life, this transforms the person not just internally but also physically especially in the way the person relates with others and the way the person presents himself or herself before others. This is what we have heard from our first reading.
Moses who found his greatest comfort and joy with the Lord was transformed. The Book of Exodus described him that the “skin of his face became radiant.” Moses’ intimate friendship with God made him a different person from before. He was God’s close friend. Consequently, this made Moses also ever closer to the people. Moses became more sensitive to the struggles, questions, fears and anxieties of the people.
This tells us too that when we truly find our greatest joy in life, we become contented and grateful persons. We would begin to look at things and look at life from the perspective of God rather than from our negative and bitter perspective. In a way, this makes our hearts radiate, our actions generous and words kind.
Certainly, a married person who truly finds contentment, security and joy in his or her married life extends such grace towards the people around him or her. A person who finally finds his or her vocation in life also becomes more generous and life-giving towards others.
Such attitude can also be found in the life of St. Ignatius de Loyola, a Spanish soldier and founder of the Society of Jesus. Ignatius was a man in search of great value in life. Along the way of his search, he was confronted by his own sinfulness and failures. He was opposed by others around him who suspected him for being a heretic or a person who desecrated the holiness of God. However, Ignatius persistently search for what will make him joyful until he found his broken and wounded self yet so loved and cherished by the Lord. This was the way also that he realized God working in his life and thus found God’s presence as the greatest value in his life, more than his riches, more than his achievements and successes and more than his sins and guilt. This transformed him to be a generous person.
We pray that in our search of that great value, then, we would hopefully also arrive at the realization that God’s desire for us is more than anything that we could imagine for ourselves. And once we find it, may the joy and peace that it brings will transform us to become a person God wants us to be like Moses and Ignatius. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR