Of Hearts and Desires – Fr Harold Parilla

Matthew 13:44-52, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflecting on the Readings for today, I think we can bring them together under the word “desire”. The First Reading, for instance, talks about God asking Solomon what it is that he wants, and Solomon responding that he desires an understanding heart. The story ends with God granting Solomon the gift of wisdom, a wisdom so great it shall remain unequaled.

In the Second Reading, we hear of St. Paul telling the Romans that all things work for good for those who love God. His words may simply mean that things will fall in their proper places for people who genuinely desire God.

Finally in the Gospel, we are introduced to the “twin parables” in which a treasure and a pearl of great price are found. In both parables, the finder sells everything that he has so that he can acquire his precious find. We are given the impression that there is so much joy in finally obtaining something that is deeply wanted.

For our reflection this Sunday, the invitation is clearly to sift through the layers of our many wants, to dig more deeply into ourselves, and ask: “What is my heart’s deepest desire?” What is it that makes me wake up in the morning and gets me out of bed? What is it that makes me push myself beyond my usual limits?

Thinkers from across the centuries have spoken on this question. They say that most people are motivated by three basic quests: power, money and pleasure. Power is intoxicating, money is addictive, and pleasure usually accompanies both. Marketing people have explored this element in promoting products, reinforcing the fundamental human drives with slogans like “Just do it” or “Obey your thirst”.

But are we, God’s beloved, just that? Are we no more than persons craving for power, money and pleasure? Isn’t there something else deeper that dignifies our hearts’ desiring?

Some years ago, I presided over the funeral mass for a first cousin who died young. He was just 49 years old, leaving behind his wife and two sons. After the mass, my sister came up to me to express how edified she was with Jinky, my cousin’s wife. Jinky was overheard saying that her only real dream in life was to marry my cousin. Despite her grief, she gave the impression of contentment because she was granted her dream man and her dream marriage. Beyond the quest for power, money or pleasure, I said to myself, her heart was fired up most deeply by something else, something more sublime. It was no less than genuine love.

The question of desire is a worthy matter for self-examination. It leads us to the discovery of what really matters to us. It may also bring us to a painful realization of how shallow we have been, or how far down God has dropped in the hierarchy of our pursuits. Ironically, the only treasure or the only pearl worth giving up everything for, is no other than God himself. Elsewhere in the Gospels we are told to “seek first the Kingdom” and everything else shall fall in the proper places.

If today, we find our lives topsy-turvy, or chaotic, or empty, it may be because we have spent our energies on less important things and have missed out on what our hearts truly crave for deep down inside.

What is my heart’s deepest desire? Today we pray for the grace of honesty and clarity to confront ourselves with this question. We hope to discover that at the bottom of all our desiring, God is there, our true treasure, our pearl of great price.

*image from the Internet

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