The opening lines of this Gospel selection seem to me a good description of what we did. Many years ago our predecessors recognized a treasure across the street – a piece of land with a stunning view and a perpetual breeze, awesome sunrises, and sunsets. They buried it with a citrus grove –went out with joy to serve the people of God in many places. And, when the time was right…our time. We sold what we had and came back with joy to reclaim our treasured “pearl.”
Jesus asks us: Do you understand all these things?” Like the disciples we without hesitation answer, “Yes.” But, maybe our voices quiver and there’s a question mark in our expression; but, there is conviction in our hearts that we will extend God’s kingdom wherever we live, whatever the restrictions we struggle with, whatever the types of resources we have at hand.
The Gospel reading concludes with a curious statement about the scribe who understands the kingdom of heaven. How do we identify and describe God’s Kingdom here on earth? One way that immediately comes to mind is this morning with the outpouring of love and concern evident in the “Christmas in July” celebration provided by the St. Mark’s Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes. God bless them!
The Kingdom of God was always clear to Jesus but to us it will always be somewhat mysterious. As we are formed in the mind of Jesus – and identify with His mindset – His vision becomes ever clearer to us. We pray: “May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day; may His word dwell richly and Jesus’ love fill me that I may be calm and strong and brave.” (Hymn: “Mind of Christ” by Katie Wilkinson).
In everyday terms, as who we live here in east Pasco County Florida, tomorrow, next week, in our transition into and out of COVID times – our mission, our vision will not change. The words of a Quaker hymn come to mind: “We bend and we bow and shan’t be ashamed.” Our mission remains the same – it just takes on a new shape. Why did our Sisters come from PA to settle in this area? “Was it not to feed the education hunger of the local children? Long before we wrote formalized philosophy statements and directional goals, our Sisters “fed hungers” in a variety of roles at all levels in the education field. They worked in internal ministries and as nurses and home-care takers, seamstresses, coif makers, packing house workers, gardeners, … you name it, as long as it was legal and moral, someone probably tried it. Our aim is, and has always been, to foster life in community – to BE community for each other: to pray and work; to interact with the care and respect St. Benedict describes in his Rule, particularly in RB chapter 72. “be the first to show respect to the other.” Or in our own words: to be the first “to respond with the compassion of Christ to the hungers of others.”
In a world that seems to have gone insane: refusing to recognize the signs of spread of disease, climate changes, and global hunger – sane things seem to be unreal. Jesus presents to us a variety of examples to help us conceptualize His Kingdom: a hidden treasure, a box filled with golden coins buried somewhere in a field; the Kingdom as a precious pearl, a jewel found by a businessman who astutely sold everything he owned in order to buy it; a fishing net filled with fish both good and bad, wheat and chaff growing together. The illustrations abound: leaven in dough, light, salt, a seed, a ripe harvest, a pearl (was it still hidden deep in the oyster’s grasp?), a royal feast and a wedding banquet.
These parables all have to do with a person finding something of such tremendous value that they are willing to give up everything they have in order to possess it.
If tonight God came in your dream and told you to ask for one thing and one thing only, what would you ask for? Is the kingdom of God so important to you that you are prepared to part with all you have in order to have it?
God leads the way – sets the path before us … God is the merchant who gives up all in order to possess a treasure – He gave His only Son, and in doing so, He has identified US as His pearl of great price.