Rich man, poor man

Jesus told a pair of short stories to show what the kingdom of heaven was like. One was about a big time trader in precious stones and pearls. The other tells of a day labourer hired by a farmer. The labourer is working away in the field and suddenly his spade hits a box someone has buried. He takes a look inside and gasps; it is full of silver coins. He looks around quickly to see if anyone is noticing and then covers up the box with soil. He goes away and sells his house, his garden, his cow and his donkey and raises enough money to buy the field.

The trader knows about precious pearls. He has been searching for “the real thing” all his life and when he sees this one his eyes almost pop out of his head. He realises the one selling the pearl is asking a high price but nothing near its value. The trader doesn’t hesitate. He sells all his assets – his wife thinks he has gone crazy – and raises enough to buy the pearl.

Jesus doesn’t explain. He simply says, “Blessed are those who hear what you hear!” People have given their explanations of these stories but the trouble with explanations is they can’t do justice to the story. It is too packed and succeeding generations have unpacked it in their own way but never quite do justice to the words of Jesus. They are just too dynamic.

Today we would want to see the whole story and not just part of it. Ignatius (feast day July 31), being a member of the noble family of Loyola, had access to power and wealth even if he did not have it at the time he changed his way of life. He was forced to rest after being wounded in battle and he came across a book that affected him deeply. Its message – about the life of Francis and Dominic among others – opened his eyes to a treasure. ‘I want what they had,’ he told himself and he felt this so strongly that he turned his back on all his former hopes and set out, a poor man, to get that treasure.

His single-minded searching is well documented and he ended up starting and leading a group that, over time, would grow into an immense family of missionaries, teachers, pastoral workers, peace-makers, and so forth. Running through all his activity was a deep joy. “Those who were in his room”, wrote Jerome Nadal, one of his closest co-workers, “were always cheerful and laughing.” He had found the treasure.

So, Jesus’ message is simple. There is a treasure in our midst. It is here already. It is the kingdom of God. Go for it! Go for it heart and soul. Vigourously get rid of whatever blocks your path. Your joy will be great and it starts now.

30 July 2017                            Sunday 17 A

1 Kings 3: 5-12                       Romans 8:28-30                      Matthew 13:44-52

Post published in: Faith
  1. Andy Kadir-Buxton

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