Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Kingdom of Heaven

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, 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.” Matthew 13: 44-46

What is the kingdom of heaven? On first glance when reading these parables in Matthew’s Gospel we might think he is actually speaking about heaven, as in our eternal home. But a close read shows us that this cannot be: how can the Evil One come and sow weeds among the wheat in heaven? When will the end come that the weeds and wheat need to be separated? When we look closer at these parables we see that Jesus is referring to the Church when He speaks of the kingdom of heaven.

So yes, we can have weeds among the wheat in the Church. And yes, they will be separated at the end of time. But do we see the Church as a treasure? Do we view the Church as valuable as a pearl of great price? Have we come to understand the depths and greatness of value that we receive from the Church and from being members of Christ’s Body? If we did, then why are we so hesitant to sacrifice EVERYTHING for the Church? Why are we so willing to abandon the Church and Her teachings at the first feelings of peer pressure or when the media and culture bash Her? Why are we so ashamed to bring Christ and His Body into the public arena?

We have lots of businessmen and women who happen to be Catholic on Sunday, but what the world needs is more CATHOLIC businessmen and women. We have lots of physicians that happen to also be Catholic, but what the world needs are CATHOLIC doctors, willing to bring the moral and ethical teaching of the Church into the operating room and the exam room. We have lots of politicians that happen to be Catholic (and some that think they are Catholic), but what the world needs is CATHOLIC politicians, willing to bring their Catholic beliefs into the way they vote and try to help and lead society. We need men and women ready to sacrifice their lives for their spouses’ and their children. We need men and women ready to sacrifice everything and become priests, sisters and brothers.

But are we willing to do this? Or is it too hard? Many businessmen and women seem to choose riches and short cuts over ethics. Many doctors seem to choose science and cultural prejudices over Catholic moral teaching. Many politicians seem to choose a political career over following their personal convictions as Catholics. And perhaps you and I are too willing to succumb to peer pressure or cave into the culture when it comes to how we live and act as well.

We need to recognize the great treasure we have in the Church: the Eucharist and the other sacraments, the huge body of moral theology to guide us, the rational and historical reasons for Faith in Jesus, the Saints, Sacred Scripture—so much offered and yet we so often view the Church as archaic or out-of-touch or irrelevant. Shame on us! May we come to see the kingdom of heaven in our midst and be willing to sell and give up everything in order to gain it and help others to find it.

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your Body, the Church. Help me to recognize the beauty and worth of this gift to the world. May I always sacrifice everything to be one with You. Amen.

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