An obvious theme of the parables of the treasure buried in a field and the pearl of great price, which we hear in our Gospel this weekend, is that we will go after something that we value. The Kingdom of God is something that, as Christians, we would obviously say is valuable and we would “sell everything we have” to get it.
But while these two parables have the same basic message, there is a big difference between them. In the one parable, the person “searches” for the pearl. He knows what he wants and he is going after it. In terms of my relationship with God and His Kingdom, this would be when I am praying, reading the bible, attending Mass,
receiving the sacraments, using a significant portion of my resources for charitable causes, etc. I know what I am after and I am doing my best to obtain it. I am “searching” for what I value and want.
In the other parable, the person “finds” the treasure hidden in the field. There is no indication that he was “searching” for it: he came upon it by chance. In terms of my relationship with God and His Kingdom, this would be similar to serendipitous experiences that bring me closer to God or help me to feel God’s presence in my life, like a beautiful sunset or an unexpected call from an old friend or a thank you note that shares a life-changing effect I had on someone’s life. I am “finding” or “coming across” God in my life.
The bottom line is that we can be confident because God is in charge. Whether or not we are actively looking for Him in a particular moment or not, God is always looking for us. For God, we are a pearl of great price. Let’s do our best to make Him a pearl of great price as well.
Church sign of the week: In high tide or low tide, God is always by your side.
The consistent message in our readings this weekend is that we need to be patient and kind to ourselves and others, as God is with us.
In our reading from the book of Wisdom, we hear that God is “lenient to all,” “judges with clemency,” and “permits repentance.” In our reading from the letter to the Romans, we hear, “the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” and the Spirit “intercedes” for us. Finally, in the Gospel parable of the enemy who sows weeds among the wheat, we are told to let things mature and all will be sorted out at the end.
The bottom line is that each one of us is a mixture of weeds and wheat, good and bad. Our task in life is to work on ourselves, making sure that the good is growing and the bad decreasing. God gives us time to grow: we need to use it.
Too often, though, we concentrate on the weeds in others, criticizing and condemning them, rather than paying attention to our own failings and weaknesses. The result is that we are bringing more and more negativity into the world, while not improving ourselves.
We cannot change anyone but ourselves and changing ourselves for the better needs to be a primary goal of our spiritual life. It is easier to criticize others than to change ourselves, but growing in our ability to live Gospel values is what we have to do. God is patient, God is giving us the time we need, but we need to take advantage of it.
I invite us to reflect this week on how judgmental we might be, resolving to let others in the hands of God, while we work to improve ourselves. God is there to help us, but our attention needs to be on ourselves, not others. Lord, help me not to judge, that I may not be judged. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Just accept and love everyone; I’ll sort them out later. - God
There are lots of thoughts that cross my mind when I reflect on the parable of the sower, which is our Gospel this weekend. The farmer is extravagant: he throws seeds everywhere, instead of sowing them only in the rich soil, where they will produce abundant fruit.
Suppose we think of the seeds as an analogy for the words that come forth from our mouths. We’ve heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. That may be true in the sense that words will never physically hurt someone, but our words can do a lot of harm. I would suspect that all of us have been hurt by something that someone else has said and we have all hurt someone else.
There is no doubt our nation is in turmoil, very divided and contentious. Think of the part hateful speech plays in the situation we find ourselves in. If we examine the words that come out of the mouths of our leaders, what percentage are positive and build up and what percentage are negative? Until that changes, we will not be able to work toward a consensus that benefits everyone, especially the most vulnerable.
The same is true in our daily lives, be it in our family or work or any other situation: any negative words feed a negative environment. That is NOT bringing about the Kingdom.
Every word that comes out of my mouth is either positive or negative, either builds up or tears down, is a source for good or evil. Let us resolve to do our best to make sure our words are a positive source of building up God’s Kingdom of peace and harmony. To go back to our parable: let us make sure we are sowing our seeds in rich soil, where they will produce good results! God bless.
Church sign of the week: God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t. That might tell us something.
In our Gospel reading last week, Jesus told us how to be hospitable and reach out to others, especially those in need. This week, Jesus is telling us how to navigate the stress and problems of life, which are inevitable. There are three parts to what He tells us.
First, come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. We have to turn to Jesus and allow Him and His values to be a part of our lives. He is there, He is waiting, but we have to “come to” Him or He won’t be able to help.
Second, take my yoke upon you and learn from me. Once we turn to Jesus, we have to learn from Him, that is, follow His way of life. It is not just acknowledging Him, but emulating Him and His way of relating to others. That is His “yoke.”
Finally, Jesus makes it crystal clear what that yoke is: for I am meek and humble of heart. When we are meek and humble, we don’t have to be first, we don’t need to be in competition, we can think of others and be compassionate and share, we don’t hold onto hurts, we forgive, etc. etc. We live the beatitudes. We flow in harmony with others. And then the result comes: we will find rest for our souls. We discover that the yoke IS easy and the burden light, because we are not struggling and competing and angry and revengeful any more: we are living in harmony with others.
For me, the whole wisdom of the Gospels is summarized in this Come to me…” statement of Jesus. When we don’t try to go it alone, but rather let Jesus, as well as His way of being, into our lives, we find rest for ourselves, for my yoke is easy and my burden light. We will have interior peace, no matter what is happening around us.
I invite us to reflect on this invitation of Jesus, thanking Him for being open to being yoked with us. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Life is like a helicopter. I don't know how to operate one either. Jesus, help me.