John Corapi grew up in Hudson, New York. He always wanted to be somebody. In high school he was a football star and thought he was on the way to being somebody but sports didn’t work out for him. During the Vietnam War he thought he could be somebody by being patriotic so he enlisted in the army and became a Green Beret. He was on his way to being somebody until he got hurt in an accident and then he was sent to Germany on administrative duties. After finishing in the army he decided to become an accountant. A friend’s father, a business executive, invited him to Las Vegas. As he drove into Las Vegas and saw all the lights he got excited and thought to himself, now he would be somebody. He began doing the round of the casinos conducting audits, the Las Vegas Hilton, the Flamingo Hilton and so on. He met famous people and began to make money. Through the state governor he got a job for the Nevada Gaming Control Board and investigated gaming fraud all over the country. He was beginning to like it and to think that this is the meaning of life and that he was somebody now. But when the governor didn’t get re-elected he lost his job and went to Los Angeles, California, where there was a real estate boom in the 1970's. When he arrived he looked through the biggest adds for residential property brokers. He went to the company with the biggest add, they gave him a job. Within a few months he was vice-president of the company. He began to make money and have standing. He moved into a pent-house suite overlooking the golf course in Beverly Hills. He said, “Now I really have arrived, this is it.” His clientele were the rich and famous. You would know who most of them, they are in the entertainment business. He would invest their money in real estate. He began eating and drinking with the wealthy and went to their parties and fell into their fast lane life. One day an actress at a party took from her purse a small gold container and said, “Meet my best friend, cocaine.” He began to take the drug that evening. His conscience was dead and so it didn’t bother him if he did immoral things. He gradually lost everything and ended up in hospital due to drugs. For over a month he neither ate nor spoke nor functioned. The only thing he desired was death. For a couple of years he saw no possibility of ever having a normal life or being somebody again. It was absolute darkness, he felt sick in every cell of his being. His mother, who had kept in contact with him all the time, asked him to come home and sent him a one-way ticket. She didn't sent him the money for it because she knew what he would do with it so she sent him the ticket. He began to say one Hail Mary a day, and he didn’t even know it by heart, he had to read it. Then he prayed a Rosary a day, and that led him on to read the Bible every day. Eventually he decided to go to Confession after twenty years of not being to Church. He said the priest was probably brain-damaged after hearing his confession. After that he spent two years in a monastic environment discerning his future, then he entered seminary and on 28th May 1991 he was ordained a priest in St Peter’s Basilica by Pope John Paul II. He wishes he could convey how much he loves the priesthood. Now he has found the meaning of his life, faith in God and being a priest. Some of you may have seen Fr John Corapi S.O.L.T. teaching on EWTN, the Catholic TV Channel. He travels widely teaching.
I was reminded of Fr John Corapi’s story by today’s Gospel. He tasted many of the world’s treasures but eventually he found the treasure hidden in the field, faith in God, thirty-seven years after he made his First Holy Communion. He had experienced many of the world’s pearls but eventually he found the pearl of great value, belief in God. The wisdom of the world says you are somebody when you have money, when you get promotion after promotion. When John Corapi drove down Rodeo Road in Beverly Hills in his red Ferrari people used to turn their head and say, “he’s somebody.” That’s the wisdom of the world. But all of that kind of wisdom only led John to darkness. In our first reading, Solomon showed himself to be really wise because the gift he asked from God was to discern between good and evil. Have we been brainwashed by the media and by our culture into thinking that you are somebody when you have money, when you get promotion after promotion? Are we being brainwashed into thinking that the pearl of great value is one which really only the dust of this world?
Again and again the Bible reminds us that we will find the
pearl of great value and the hidden treasure only in God. These are some beautiful passages:
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
“The Lord is my shepherd;
“In God alone is my soul at rest;
These beautiful passages remind us that we will find the
pearl of great value and the hidden treasure only in God. Thirty-seven years after his First Holy
Communion John Corapi made that discovery.
We pray to the Lord that we may all discover the hidden treasure and the
pearl of great value.