Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
Psalm 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
In the Scriptures “the Kingdom of heaven” means “The Reign of God” in our lives and/or in all of creation. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field…
When Jeremiah found the treasure he was overjoyed: When I found your words I devoured them; they became the joy of my heart. He sounds like someone in love! But, now, something has gone wrong. He is beyond depressed. Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! He feels not only betrayed but even abandoned by God. You have become for me a treacherous brook… Jeremiah has taken to heart his commission to speak in God’s name. This has caused him nothing but alienation and oppression from his own people. He is frustrated, dispirited, and ready to give up.
Jeremiah’s prayer is magnificent! He talks to God as though he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. In verses 11 to 15 (omitted in today’s reading) he reminds God of how well he had served Him and pleads with God to remember him, to protect him. Jeremiah does not want to lose the treasure he had previously found!
And God responds. His message? When Jeremiah stops worrying about himself and gets on with his mission to proclaim God’s call to repentance the people will turn back to God. Then God will restore not only Jeremiah but the whole people – making them as solid as brass (along with iron, the strongest bulwark the ancients could build).
God has found a treasure that he does not wish to lose. I have never read this in a commentary, but as I listen to the words: the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.… the image that comes to me is not of some earthly person searching but rather of God searching, willing to give everything to gain that pearl. In my mediation the pearl of great price is God’s people, individually and collectively.
And God did give everything! He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself…becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8).
- Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House: “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”. www.bishopmolloy.org