As we approach the end of the year, both liturgically and really, the readings seem to get ominous and in a sense scary as they talk about the end of the world. None of us likes to think of our own mortality or the world around us falling apart or ending. Realistically, thinking of our death or the end of the world, isn’t really a wise thing to do or a wise way to start a day or to plan ahead. What is really wise is not to plan our departure but rather plan the present moment, the waiting as well. As Christians, we know that with Christ’s death and resurrection and ascension, and his sending of his Spirit, that God’s kingdom is now. We are called to be present to others, to be Christians, to give, to share, to care. These are the things that last and benefit the kingdom. God’s kingdom is now, in our own lifetime. What we see and share and believe is only a preparation for what will be in another time and place. God’s presence is now and always. Many speak of wasting time as they rush through their daily schedule. Perhaps the rushing is the waste if we neglect interaction and caring along the way. How many people, friend or not do we rush by? How often do we step aside to pray? Or to just appreciate God’s gift of the world around us, a scenic place, or a sunset or sunrise? Or to embrace and appreciate the family and friends we have?
All the above is important because death or the end of the world is not an end for us or God’s kingdom. Life will not end but change. That change is told to us by God but what it entails we don’t know. We do know that all who have died will rise and God will embrace all who are to be in his kingdom. But we as Christians are already in his kingdom if we are living as Christ asked us to do our passage should be a reunion of all those we have known and those we will come to know.
The big score, the big treasure, the big jackpot is in some way a dream of many of us. All around us, we see ads for lottery, and casinos and all kind of contests promising a prize of some kind. We see rewards. Miles and all sorts of gimmicks. In Jesus’ time, there were no banks and people’s valuables and treasures would be buried for safety and later access. If a landowner died, the treasure could remain and be unknown until found. The finder would try to purchase the land to make his find his own. So Jesus is telling us today that there is a dreamer in all of us to some extent. The treasure he speaks of is himself and of course his Father and the Holy Spirit. It is a treasure of everlasting life of union with Him. The price is the gifting of ourselves in believing and loving and committing to his word. It is a whole new way of looking at relationships and thew world and loving and caring for all. God after all is creator of all and looks after his creation as only a loving creator could. His love brought his presence to us of His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is through them that we can find the way and be with them forever. In this case, our treasure is real and our pursuit is one that should encourage and drive all the days that we have. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection were real, and so is our pursuit of the same life Jesus offers us with eternal life.
One thing we see out around us is John 3:16. We see it on signs, at sporting events and other places. People seem to use it to remind us of Christ’s presence and his life and death. God gave his only Son so that those who believe might have eternal life. What we must remember, is that in John’s thought eternal life was the age to come, an age begun with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Of course, no idea of the age to come is possible without the Holy Spirit and his coming as the new age dawned. In this way, we can see that the gospel is meant to reflect the idea of the Trinity. I think we are all acutely aware that we believe in One God, three persons, but explaining it is beyond what is possible for us. It is hard for us to conceive that God is not material and who and what He is will come to light at some future time of our existence. What we do have is an experience of three persons, Father(or a parental being), Son and Holy Spirit. We know the Son at an appointed time entered the world to give his life so that creation could be restored to union with the Trinity. At the end of his time, the Son left(sent) his Spirit to keep alive his Word and to aid and inspire his followers as they proceeded to walk in the new life given by the Son. This is why we always invoke the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Theologians for centuries have written and speculated about God and Theology including the Trinity. Yet Thomas Aquinas after a lifetime of writing and after a mystical experience concluded his work was straw.
Faith is what is needed. We come to know God by faith and experience by opening ourselves to him. Christ physically comes in the Eucharist, but the Spirit abides in us if we permit and helps us form an intimate and positive relationships as we walk the path and the way of the new life given to believers.
As we grow up, we all looked at right and wrong in terms of black and white, yes or no. We saw law and morality as yes or no, as absolute. Only as we grew and matured did we see and understand the complexity and at times that there was a gray area in many laws and interpretations. We seem at times to look at things and call ourselves conservative or liberal. Yet, if we look at today’s gospel, and I chose the short form to more easily see its point. We see Jesus state the law, but actually reinterpret it to place it as not some ideal out there, but something flowing from our own interior disposition and passion. Anger is wrong and opposite to what we should be as Christians. God’s love and our love of God should enable and help us to control ourselves as persons and do far more than follow the letter of the law. Conservative or Liberal are labels and really irrelevant. Love begets compassion and relationships and should enable us to reach out and live our lives in God’s love with the Holy Spirit he has given us. Laws are for the most part, ideals to reach and follow, but obviously all of us fall short of the ideal at one time or another. It is then that God’s love and compassion will embrace us when we reach out to him, to discern with him what is the best for us. Christ is calling all of us to interiorize his message, to control our inner self and to be the salt and light he mentioned in last week’s gospel. This requires we walk with him and open our hearts. The Scribes and Pharisees were the teachers and followers of the law and insisted on it to the point others couldn’t follow it, because the poverty and difficulties of life itself made the many man-made prescriptions impossible to follow. Jesus clearly invoked compassion as his love embraced those caught up in such a way.
Jesus clearly has given a new life and a new way in proclaiming God’s love and a way of life coming from within the hearts and minds of his followers. Love, compassion, reaching out all called for a way to a new life that even now we as Christians and as Church are still struggling to achieve. Yet Christ’s love keeps us going and holds us together in our work and journey together. It is in our committing to him that we find the peace of heart and mind and find the patience and rest that we all seek, even as we continue on each day. Hopefully, it enables us to be that light that beams his message.