17 Sunday in Ordinary Time
MT 13:44-52 OR 13:44-46
July 26, 2020

A race has begun, quite possibly the most important competition in human history.

The competitors in this momentous event are medical researchers, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies competing to discover an effective vaccine that will prevent people from contracting COVID-19. Quite honestly, I have been praying daily for a winner…any winner. I am so eager to have this race end that I don’t care who gets the prize. A victory in this historic race will be a victory for all humankind…AT LEAST IT SHOULD BE…and the sooner, the better. Because with every day that passes, more lives are lost, so I am praying hard for someone…anyone…to cross the finish line.

But as eager as I am…as the entire world is…for a vaccine that will allow us to resume life as we knew it pre-Covid, imagine how the participants feel. They are frantic! Motivated by trillions of dollars in potential profit, the corporate competitors have most likely suspended, or at least assigned a lower priority to other research projects, concentrating all resources on THE BIG PRIZE.

Corporations probably regard Covid-19 as much an opportunity as a monumental tragedy. With money the major motivator to corporate interests, we can only hope and pray that they will be socially responsible if and when they cross the finish line. There are quite likely researchers out there who have put their entire lives on hold, working feverishly to be “the first.” Visions of the Nobel Peace Prize and a place in history as the renowned scientist who saved the world inspire them. No cost is too great to be “the one.”

But without a doubt, there are dedicated and selfless women and men whose only desire is to find a way to end the fear and the suffering. These competitors ignore their personal sacrifices. They are willing to pay the price to rid the world of this devastating disease, no matter what it might cost them personally. Even if they don’t intend to, these competitors reflect The Face of Christ.

Reread this week’s three little parables from this perspective:

Humankind is the “hidden treasure.” All the wisdom and goodness and joy with which God created us has been buried deep, under centuries of sin. And we kept piling more and more greed, envy, and hatred on top of what was intended to shine until it seemed all that wisdom and goodness could no longer to be retrieved.

Then Jesus freely limited His Divinity and embraced our stricken humanity so that He could raise us up, clean us off, and restore us to what our Creator intended us to be. Looking into our hearts with eyes of perfect mercy and compassion, The Lord sees the priceless pearl that is hidden within our flesh and bones. By His suffering, death, and resurrection, Christ has purchased us. The Lord did not count the cost, but eagerly paid it so that we might belong to Him.

And finally, as we cross the finish line of our earthly lives, leaving time to enter eternity, our all-just and all-merciful judge will be there to examine us, discarding all that has no value and embracing all the good we have done.
The Kingdom of God?

Isn’t it really all about what motivates us to do the things we do? When we act out of greed or ambition or pride…well, we are less than what God created us to be. But when we sacrifice ourselves, without counting the cost, for the good of others, then we are the image of Christ.

And when we show The Face of Christ to the world, we are not far from The Kingdom.