While reflecting on the Gospel reading for today two questions came to me – two I don’t have answers for – two I would like to share with you.
How am I doing?
The first is this:
For me, and I would venture to say for many, a major worry about my faith journey is, that I am not sure how well I am doing. Am I putting enough of myself into my relationship with God? I find it hard to gauge my participation in my salvation. At times my journey seems good. At other times I hear in my mind a saying from St. Jose Maria Escrivá ‘You say you can’t do any more, could it be that you can’t do any less.’ And other times it seems to me that I am on my own on this path with no inkling as where I am in my effort.
This has always been a concern; since Old Testament times God’s people have been concerned with this same question – How am I doing? The Psalms are full of supplications for help with our journey caused by our anxiety with how we are doing; and a foreboding that we don’t have much time. ‘Show me, Lord your way so that I may walk in your truth. Guide my heart to fear your name.’ We hear in Psalm 86. And in Psalm 90: ‘Our life is over like a sigh. Our span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong. And most of these are emptiness and pain. They pass swiftly and we are gone.. Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart..’ And on and on. Even in today’s Gospel we hear Christ warning us that time is short by telling us that hell is real and judgment will happen.
But also in today’s Gospel Christ talks about what is important for a successful journey that for me is summed up in one word – Desire. At first reading we see Jesus telling his disciples and us about how we should view heaven. His three examples point out that we should desire heaven as the most precious thing in our lives. As a treasure, as fine pearls, a great catch of fish. And that is exactly how we should place heaven in our lives – we should desire it above all else. To be with God, to be in heaven, which is our home is the most important goal we can have.
But it isn’t this desire that struck me this week. Let’s look at two of these three examples again.
- ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’
- ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.’
- ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.’
The last two examples have a different point of view than the first. In the first example Heaven is like a treasure buried in a field that we are searching for. In the last two examples, however, Heaven is doing the searching (or catching). Heaven desires us as well.
- God is searching for fine pearls of great price – us. We are the pearl that’s price was paid for by Christ on the Cross.
- God’s net is constantly thrown out to bring us back to him.
Brothers and Sisters God desires us! He spares nothing to bring us within His loving embrace. Christ says this throughout His ministry:
- ‘there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.’ We hear Him tell us in Luke.
- And again in Luke we hear: ‘I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
This intensity of God towards me, this desire, is both reassuring and disconcerting. And it leads me to my second question that I ask myself and I put to you.
Do I desire God as much as He desires me?