Wednesday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time Year 2
(Jer 15:10, 16-21; Mt 13: 44-46)
Mark Link begins his reflection with this anecdote: Someone asked Paderewski, the great pianist, “Why do you continue to practice every day?” Paderewski answered, “If I skip practice one day, I notice it. If I skip two days, my colleagues notice it. If I skip three days, everybody notices it.” (Mark Link, Daily Homilies, p.77) In every life situation and experience, man finds himself confronted with limitations. It is always an ideal to be perfect but man sometimes succumbs to his imperfections and admits himself unable to reach his ideal. Paderewski could only positively commit himself to practice everyday but appears to be ready for any interruption due to human limitation. It was an ideal thing to think of and do when Jesus said “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Although there is also a saying that says: “we are made to be real and not to be perfect” at the bottom of both sayings we find man as a creature who is imperfect and looks at some ideal. Let us mention what imperfection can do to us and yet becomes a path towards God’s grace in the readings today.
1. Pain- the Prophet Jeremiah vents his sorrow at the rejection of his prayer. He curses his life and said that he would prefer never to have been born than be compelled unceasingly to predict an evil from which there was no escape, and pray for mercy without being heard. Imperfection is painful. Due to the pain Jeremiah experienced, bitter words flowed from his mouth. John Paul II said that “For man also knows, through painful experience, that by a conscious and free act of his will he can change course and go in a direction opposed to God's will, separating himself from God (aversio a Deo)” (RP 17). Yet God calls back the sinner and speaks His word to him. Jeremiah found God’s word and made it part of his renewal and conversion and testified “When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart.”
2. Inquisitive- man’s experiences of disgust, suffering and pain prompt him to ask questions. He questions God’s benevolence, goodness, love and concern for the world. In man’s helpless situation he becomes amazingly aware of the mystery of suffering. John Paul II reminded us that “suffering is something which is still wider than sickness, more complex and at the same time still more deeply rooted in humanity itself” (SD 5). The mystery of suffering makes man succumb to the quest for meaning of suffering in the world. In the midst of pain and suffering, Jeremiah questioned: “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” Are all my labors to be in vain? Commentaries say that Jeremiah had expected that called to so high an office, there would be a perpetual intereference of providence in his behalf, instead whereof things seemed to take only their natural course. In his deepest pain and sorrow he searches for answers which God could only answer. The more he questions, the more he learns to surrender to God’s grace and to depend more on Him.
3. Transcendence- man’s imperfection is a path toward transcendence because any form of limitation is an opportunity for seeking perfection. Since sin is man’s alienation from God due to his imperfection, God invites man to transcend and seek reconciliation. The longing for reconciliation and reconciliation itself will be complete and effective only to the extent that they reach-in order to heal it-that original wound which is the root of all other wounds: namely sin. (RP 3). Restoration from sin is God’s gift to the sinner. God cannot allow man to be destroyed by sin but offers reconciliation and renewal. Jeremiah was promised by the Lord: “If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand.” Transcending from imperfections demands a specific course of action. It is to choose the Lord for life and make Him a priority in all undertaking. It is like a person so finds the Pearl of great price or a person who finds a treasure in the field. He sells everything he has and buys that field or the Pearl he found. The same thing with Jeremiah, the Lord proposed that if he agrees to be His mouthpiece or prophet, God promised to be with him. And if enemies come, “though they fight against you, they shall not prevail.”
“mission has its fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him.”