According to the prophet Jeremiah, the people of Jerusalem will be punished for their abominations, adultery and harlotry (13:27). During the drought to be inflicted on the people, God tells Jeremiah not to pray for the welfare of the people (14:11). Jeremiah intercedes anyway (14:19-22), asking God to remember his people and keep the covenant. God reminds Jeremiah that even Moses and Samuel stood before him and were unable to turn his heart (15:1). The sins of King Manasseh, the son of the good king Hezekiah, are cause for Jerusalem’s destruction.
Manasseh rebuilt all the pagan sanctuaries his father, Hezekiah, destroyed. He erected altars for Baal and set up a pagan pillar (Asherah) in the temple. He worshiped false gods and served them. Manasseh burned his son as an offering, and practiced soothsaying and augury, and dealt with mediums and wizards; He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking the Lord to anger (2 Kings 21:3-9). Through the prophets, the Lord says: “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations, and has done things more wicked than all tat the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah .also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle” (2 Kings 21:10-12).
Jerusalem has rejected the Lord and brought destruction upon themselves. Jeremiah is undeterred and continues his intercession for the people. He asks the Lord to remember him and visit him and take vengeance on his persecutors. He tells the Lord that when he found his words, he devoured them and the words became a joy to him and the delight of his heart.
In response, God promises to protect Jeremiah: “I am with you to save you and deliver you. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless” (15:20-21). Today’s psalm manifests the heart of those who truly trust in the Lord: God is our stronghold, our refuge in the day of distress. The merciful God is our strength and we sing his praise.
Just as Jeremiah rejoiced when he found the words of God and abandoned himself to God’s protection, so also the person who finds the Kingdom of God rejoices and abandons themselves to God’s providence. When we encounter the Kingdom of God, the appropriate response is to sell everything and place our hope and trust completely in the Lord. It is an image of abandonment to God. “Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: ‘therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?”… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (CCC, 305).
The parable of pearl can be read from our perspective or from God’s perspective. From our perspective, we are the merchant and God is the pearl. From God’s perspective, he is the merchant seeking us. We are the pearl of great price and God is willing to send his only-begotten Son to redeem us from the ancient curse of Adam. The Son emptied himself and took the form of a servant. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Through his Son, God delivers us from our enemies and is our refuge from evil. In this mass, then, we ask the Son, our redeemer, to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father, and we offer, with the Son and in the Holy Spirit, praise and thanksgiving to God the Father.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at email@example.com.