Are You a Student of Christian Life?
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
Jesus said to his disciples: 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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Do you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."
Recently, I played a very enjoyable round of golf with a friend of a friend for the first time. This gentleman has a very solid golf game which is an absolute pleasure to watch. He has a very consistent swing and a putting routine that is well-tuned and effective. He plays golf with a certain ease and comfort; that is, he can hold a conversation with you that is personal and thoughtful. At the same time, he is quite focused on the game he is playing, paying attention to important details like the direction and strength of the wind, the speed of the greens and where to land on the green so that you have an uphill putt. It became very obvious to me that this guy is a real student of the game of golf.
Do you treasure your Christian faith? Do you study it, try to better understand it in order to live it with greater gusto? Do you pray with the Scriptures seeking to discover the heart of Jesus in the Gospels? Do you take lessons from the saints? Do you strive to practice the virtues which enable us to do the right thing with a certain ease and joy?
In our first reading for today, the Lord appears to young King Solomon and says to him, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon does not ask for a long life nor riches nor the life of his enemies, but rather for an understanding heart to judge God’s people and to distinguish right from wrong. God is so pleased with his request that he bestows such wisdom and understanding upon Solomon that “there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
A very important dimension of being a student of the Christian life is to genuinely seek the will of God for our lives and to be humble enough to follow it. God’s ways often run up against the values of our contemporary culture. Paul’s line to the Romans is a great challenge: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).
My second thought for this week comes from our Gospel passage for today. Jesus tells a parable about how he wants us to approach our faith and our love for God. “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 the field.” Jesus wants us to give him our whole heart. He desires us to be all-in for him and his kingdom. What do I consider my greatest treasure?
The life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga is a story about a young person whose greatest treasure was Jesus Christ. Aloysius was the firstborn son of an aristocrat, the marquis of Castiglione. His father deeply desired that his firstborn son be a soldier and an influential member of the court. Aloysius was sent at a young age to prepare for this life, but it did not interest him at all. In fact, he developed an interest in spiritual things from the age of seven. He gradually grew in his love for Jesus and the church. He fought with his father over the direction of his life. In the end, he renounced his inheritance and joined the Jesuits at the age of 18.
Aloysius freely chose a life of poverty and asked his superiors to assign him to the most menial tasks for the community. While living in Rome, a plague broke out in the city. He dedicated himself to the service of the sick, bathing, feeding and also evangelizing them in the hospital. Sadly, he contracted the disease and died within the year, remaining very prayerful and service-oriented during his illness. Aloysius left this world and went home to feast of eternal life at the age of 23. Jesus was, indeed, this young man’s greatest treasure.
Are you a student of the Christian life? Do you study the life of Jesus, pray with the Gospels, learn from the saints (experts), and attentively practice the virtues? What do you consider your greatest treasure? For what or whom would you sell everything?