Friday, December 19, 2008

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt 13:44-52

No one would buy my field that I irrigate at the monastery. It is full of rocks, lumpy, dried out in many places, and overall not very attractive. It would be an excellent place to hide a treasure. No one would be going there for any reason. Certainly no buyer would be inspecting it. A cattle rancher would not be out there with the livestock. Not much to graze on in that field. A treasure would be safe there.

Probably, the present owner of the field did not even know there was a treasure there. The wanderer just happened upon it. The gospel says that the person, out of joy, goes and sells all to buy the field. It is not out of greed. So I doubt that treasure is a pile of money. It is something that makes the discoverer joyful. The owner is probably quite happy to find anyone who would buy that field and for a good price. In that ugly expanse of field, something joyful is discovered buried right there. Someone with a messy life of addiction would be joyful to discover a recovery process or program that changed his or her life for the better. For that they might give all else.

I think of my faults, bad habits, defects of character, sins, as like a rocky field that seems to give little life. I would love to be rid of these parts of myself. But many spiritual writers say that it is important to be aware of our bad habits and sins. Why? Because that is precisely where God is hidden within us. Genesis says that the light came into the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. The light of God has come into the darkness of myself to love me, unconditionally, in spite of my faults.

Too often people get caught up in earning God’s love, by their good behavior. But God’s love comes first. It is unearned. Maybe we will change when it sinks in that God is in the field of the worst parts or ourselves. God is the hidden treasurer. God is merciful and forgiving. Unless we know that we need mercy and forgiveness, we cannot discover, much less enjoy this treasure of God’s presence that is within us.

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