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Seeking treasure of God's kingdom

 

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

Treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price" (Matthew 13:44-46). The Lord presents us with these two images of his kingdom, which the fortunate seeker has discovered and for which he gives everything he owns in order to possess what is more precious than all.

It is often a matter of luck when treasure is discovered. We think of the efforts of prospectors of old, panning for gold, lucky if they found a few nuggets after all their labours, yet always hopeful of a lucky strike.

For us, however, God himself draws and directs us, that we might seek him and find him, that we would come to know him and possess that with which no earthly riches can compare - what St Paul expressed as "the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord" (Philippians 3:8-9).

Paul gladly accepted the loss of everything - those things he used to hold dear, all his old certainties, he willingly let go of them - after Christ took hold of him (Philippians 3:12). What an incomparable blessing to be 'apprehended', taken hold of, by Christ. We do not need to travel far to discover these true riches that are not of the earth. The treasure is hidden in a field. In another parable, the Lord said, "the field is the world" (Matthew 13:38).

It is in the midst of what is mundane and familiar that the kingdom of God awaits our discovery. A pearl is formed at the core of an oyster. The oyster reacts against an irritant, a foreign body, producing a substance called nacre, which wraps the irritant in layer upon layer of this coating, also known as mother of pearl, until the precious pearl is formed.

Is this natural process not reminiscent of how divine grace enfolds us so that the irritant or foreign body of sin loses its power over us, so that we are no longer a cause of hurt and suffering to others by our selfishness?

Grace changes our ugly old sinful selves into something new and beautiful.

"The grace of God has been revealed in our midst" (Titus 2:11). His saving wisdom is not for an elite group but is accessible to everyone - most particularly to those whom the Lord calls "mere children" (Matthew 11:25).

The wisdom of God is simplicity itself and can be learned by all. The wisdom of God is the science of love. To know how to love - truly, rightly and purely: this is the wisdom that the Lord teaches.

At the very heart of this wisdom is self-sacrificing love - love to the uttermost, the perfect love revealed on the arms of the cross of Christ.

Wisdom is surrendering oneself to this love without reserve, for it is a pearl of great price. The treasure that we seek, it costs us our sin and selfishness, our self-preservation.

The wisdom of God reveals that we are loved by God with an infinite love. Its discovery is the joyous realisation that, "by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"May the Lord give us discerning and understanding hearts" (I Kings 3:9). "May we resolve to obey God's Word, to love His commands more than finest gold, to rule our lives by His precepts and to hate the ways of falsehood" (Cf. Psalm 119:127-128).

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