“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field… Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls… Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. ” (Matt 13.45-47)
According to a Jewish folk tale, Isaac, a poor man who lived in the city of Krakow, had a recurring dream about a treasure buried under a bridge in the city of Prague. The dream was so real that Isaac decided to go and look for this hidden treasure. He walked the three days journey to Prague and found the bridge of his dreams. However, before he had even a chance to search for the treasure, he was arrested. The police wondered what Isaac, a Jew, was doing under a bridge in the Gentile area of the city. Obviously, they scoffed at his story of a dream.
One of the officers even told him that he too had been having a dream of a treasure hidden under a stove in the kitchen of a peasant named Isaac who lived in the city of Krakow. He, however, was not foolish enough to waste his time and make the journey to Krakow just because of a dream. When Isaac was released, he hurried home, went directly to the stove in his kitchen. And sure enough, there he found a treasure large enough to make him a wealthy man for the many, many remaining years of his life.
Jewish wisdom is telling us something simple and basic. There is no need to search outside of us, what is already within us! The source of our happiness, the key of our fulfillment is within us. Why spend money, energy, time looking outside when we already have it inside?
Jesus Christ himself says it. “The kingdom of God is within you”, he said. And he adds – this kingdom is a treasure, a pearl of great value, a net full of fish of every kind. Hidden treasures always bring to my mind Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island – Long John Silver and doubloons and pieces-of-eight, and peg leg pirates, and all the exciting adventures of hidden treasures. God has his buried treasures and he is speaking of them in this parable.
The exciting thing about Scripture is that here we are dealing with fact, not fancy.
Translating it into modern language, this parable would sound like this. The Kingdom of God is like a geologist, who one day after in-depth study, finds an excellent source of natural gas just under his house. It is a real breakthrough, a well of petroleum just under his home! Being smart, what does he do? He goes to the bank, sells all his stocks and bonds, gets a loan if necessary, and goes and buys the whole block of houses adjoining his home. He does not mind spending millions, because he knows he is going to get billions back!
Jesus Christ asserts that faith is the same. A treasure. An accumulation of wealth. A well of oil.
The truth however is that religion normally does not evoke into our minds great ideas of fun and wealth. For many of us, it is a burden, a chore we have to do, a drudgery we have to sweat through. . .
Why? Where have we gone wrong? What are we missing?
Simple. We have made a mistake. We have made out of Christianity a law, a set of prescriptions – norms to follow, standards to abide by. If you are a Catholic, you have to go to Sunday Mass, you have to follow the commandments, you have to abstain from sex until marriage, you cannot take contraceptives, you cannot shack up, you cannot do this and that… Laws, laws, laws. . . Or rites, rites, rites
Well, we are wrong. Christianity is something else. It is a good news. What good news? The news that spiritual cancer has been overcome. We have found an cure to spiritual aids. Really! Spiritual aids or spiritual cancer are more deadly than the physical sickness.
The good news is that God loves us immensely. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to take upon himself the consequences of our sins. He bore the effects of our HIV sickness – HIV is our sin. I should have gone on a cross not He. Instead He went there instead of me and for me. He suffered in his flesh the consequences of my sin. The cross is God’s answer to man’s pain.
But God did not leave Jesus Christ in the tomb. He rose Him up. And He came out victorious. Now He is alive. Now He has power. Now He can and He wants to transmit this power to us. He can give us victory. Real victory over all our fears, over all our depressions, sins, grumpiness. He can cure us!
The Adventure Of A Pearl
A grain of sand hurts an oyster, but the oyster’s response is to transform and transmute the injurious object, covering it with a soft and delicate nacre which is built up layer by layer until it forms a lustrous and shining and beautiful pearl. The unsightly is transformed into something of beauty. And that is the action of love. That is what our Lord has chosen as a symbol of Him.
Healing human hurt is God’s business. In ignorance we go right on, doing the things that are hurting and destroying us… anorexia, self mutilation, simple boredom, eating too much. . .
A beautiful friend of mine just emailed me this : “Dear Father, I didn’t want to write to you when things were going so bad. I feel as though lately I have only been sending you depressing things. I am really not doing well at all. … I feel like such a failure. I am such a rotten mom and wife. … Everything feels like it is closing in around me. My husband cannot handle being around much. He is not able to support me at all. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. I know I am. I want to be strong like I feel God must want me to be. I feel like a robot. I feel dead. I used to hurt myself. I used to gouge myself or bang my head on the wall or ram my body into something. The pain would distract me for awhile from the pain inside which I cannot handle. Tonight I keep thinking about doing that again. I throw up every time I eat. I am so tired. I am so alone…” And the email continues..
God sees these abrasions and He wants to do something. Jesus wants to come and give all that He has so that He may take all the hurt which is in us. He wants to heal us, to minister to us by clothing us with His own beauty, transforming our lives into His life. He wants to wash away with his own blood our wounds, our sins, our guilt. He wants to cleanse us and impart His life to us so that we might become more and more like Him.
He wants to make us kings and queens … like King Solomon. When Solomon, the most intelligent man on earth, was asked what he wanted, he did not ask for more money, more health, less problems. He asked for a discerning mind. A mind able to make the right choices. A mind able to understand that “ALL (yes, ALL) things works together for good for those who love God”.
The Pope constantly says it. Open the door to Him. Let Him in. Make Him a part of your family. It is that simple!
The handle is on your side…
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.