July 26, 2020 at St. Peter the Apostle and St William Parishes in Naples, FL
1 Kings 3, 5, 7-12 + Psalm 119 + Roman 8, 28-30 + Matthew 13, 44-52
We have been treated to a whole string of parables in the last several weeks. They call us back to the basics with images of soil, seeds, yeast, weeds, and finally there comes these final images about treasures, pearls, and a net. All of these should have excited our imaginations about the Kingdom of Heaven. The images are simple, and so is the Kingdom of Heaven. It simply means knowing that we are children of God with a divine dignity and an eternal destiny. The Kingdom of Heaven opens for us when we discover the meaning of life and how to live it. Today’s parables touch on these very points: life’s meaning and how to live it.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are a people willing to sacrifice anything at all to live with the nobility and the dignity that comes with being God’s children. If that is you and me, then there is nothing created that can satisfy our search and our longing other than the creator himself. We can never be satisfied with something that makes us happy, because happiness comes and goes. When we have discovered who we are and why, we have discovered the greatest of treasures the gift of God himself in Jesus Christ. That discovery is the meaning of life, and it brings Joy which is very different from happiness.
It takes an external stimulus to trigger happiness. It’s all about things or other people, places or events. Joy however, comes when you are at peace with who you are, why you are and how you are. The extraordinary thing about Joy is that it can exist whether you are happy or not. When we get the two confused, we end up trying to force the feeling of happiness into the place intended for joy. It never works. Happy cannot replace Joy, and Joy is what we all long for. I once read that happiness is an inch deep and a mile wide. Joy is a mile deep and an inch wide. Happiness has a self-centered piece in it. Not so with Joy. It comes from relationship and the exciting discovery that we are loved, and that the love we find has nothing to do with what we look like, feel like, or act like, for that matter. It has to do with knowing and believing with all our mind, our heart, and our soul that God loves us and will not turn his back upon us. Joyful is how we live it.
That is the discovery hinted at in these first two parables. The treasure and pearl are God’s love that draws us into the Kingdom of Heaven. The final parable that brings some closure to this whole series encourages us to sort through our lives, our values, maybe even our relationships and possessions to discover what really matters. What does not should be thrown away. Joy is what marks those who can sell everything for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.