I was reading a homily delivered by the Vatican's Fr. Cantalamessa [whose name means sings the Mass] on the gospel reading where the woman washes Jesus' feet with her tears and annoints them with expensive perfume. His comments take my thoughts on transformation to the next level:
How a conversion happens is perfectly described by Jesus in the parable of the hidden treasure: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; a man finds it and hides it again, then he goes, full of joy, and sells all he has and buys the field." It is not said that "a man sold everything he had and then went out in search of a hidden treasure."The treasure that I've been finding these last few days is a deeper walk with Christ. Specifically, he meets me every time I seek him out. Yesterday was a particularly hard day at work, with certain stresses and external pressures coming to bear in a manner truly grueling. I came home mentally and emotionally exhausted and, as per my new habit this week, sought him out in prayer.
We know how the stories that begin this way end. One loses everything he has and does not find any treasure. These are stories of deluded people, visionaries. No, a man finds a treasure and sells all he has to acquire it. In other words, it is necessary to have found a treasure in order to have the strength and the joy to sell all.
I'm learning that this practice doesn't always result in a tingly spine or even a reversal of my mood; rather I am drawn into a place of peace where God listens to my concerns and wraps me in his embrace.
This is the treasure - a God who cares, who not only tolerates my petty woes but wants to offer comfort to me where I am; a God who I don't have to try to please with vain sacrifices, but who is always willing to meet me where I'm at.
I've found a treasure here and I must have it... and that's the point Fr. Cantalamessa is making. He continues [ibid]:
I was reading recently the story of the famous convert of the 19th century, Hermann Cohen, a brilliant musician, idolized as a the young prodigy of his time in the salons of central Europe[...].
After his conversion he wrote to a friend: "I looked for happiness everywhere: in the elegant life of the salons, in the deafening noise of balls and parties, in accumulating money, in the excitement of gambling, in artistic glory, in friendship with famous people, in the pleasures of the senses. Now I have found happiness, I have an overflowing heart and I want to share it with you. ... You say, 'But I don't believe in Jesus Christ.' I say to you, 'Neither did I and that is why I was unhappy.'"
Conversion is the way to happiness and a full life. It is not something painful, but the greatest joy. It is the discovery of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.