New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent Day 3 - Catechism on the Holy Spirit

(The following is from the Cure of Ars Lenten reading Plan)

O my children, how beautiful it is! The Father is our Creator, the Son is our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is our Guide.... Man by himself is nothing, but with the Holy Spirit he is very great. Man is all earthly and all animal; nothing but the Holy Spirit can elevate his mind, and raise it on high. Why were the saints so detached from the earth? Because they let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit.

Those who are led by the Holy Spirit have true ideas; that is the reason why so many ignorant people are wiser than the learned. When we are led by a God of strength and light, we cannot go astray.

The Holy Spirit is light and strength. He teaches us to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and between good and evil. Like glasses that magnify objects, the Holy Spirit shows us good and evil on a large scale. With the Holy Spirit we see everything in its true proportions; we see the greatness of the least actions done for God, and the greatness of the least faults. As a watchmaker with his glasses distinguishes the most minute wheels of a watch, so we, with the light of the Holy Spirit, distinguish all the details of our poor life. Then the smallest imperfections appear very great, the least sins inspire us with horror. That is the reason why the most Holy Virgin never sinned. The Holy Spirit made her understand the hideousness of sin; she shuddered with terror at the least fault.

Those who have the Holy Spirit cannot endure themselves, so well do they know their poor misery. The proud are those who have not the Holy Spirit. Worldly people have not the Holy Spirit, or if they have, it is only for a moment. He does not remain with them; the noise of the world drives Him away. A Christian who is led by the Holy Spirit has no difficulty in leaving the goods of this world, to run after those of Heaven; he knows the difference between them. The eyes of the world see no further than this life, as mine see no further than this wall when the
church door is shut. The eyes of the Christian see deep into eternity. To the man who gives himself up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there seems to be no world; to the world there seems to be no God.... We must therefore find out by whom we are led. If it is not by the Holy Spirit, we labor in vain; there is no substance nor savor in anything we do. If it is by the Holy Spirit, we taste a delicious sweetness... it is enough to make us die of pleasure!

Those who are led by the Holy Spirit experience all sorts of happiness in themselves, while bad Christians roll themselves on thorns and flints. A soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells is never weary in the presence of God; his heart gives forth a breath of love. Without the Holy Spirit we are like the stones on the road.... Take in one hand a sponge full of water, and in the other a little pebble; press them equally. Nothing will come out of the pebble, but out of the sponge will come abundance of water. The sponge is the soul filled with the Holy Spirit, and the stone is the cold and hard heart which is not inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

A soul that possesses the Holy Spirit tastes such sweetness in prayer, that it finds the time always too short; it never loses the holy presence of God. Such a heart, before our good Savior in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, is a bunch of grapes under the wine press. The Holy Spirit forms thoughts and suggests words in the hearts of the just.... Those who have the Holy Spirit produce nothing bad; all the fruits of the Holy Spirit are good. Without the Holy Spirit all is cold; therefore, when we feel we are losing our fervor, we must instantly make a novena to the Holy Spirit to ask for faith and love.... See, when we have made a retreat or a jubilee, we are full of good desires: these good desires are the breath of the Holy Spirit, which has passed over our souls, and has renewed everything, like the warm wind which melts the ice and brings back the spring.... You who are not great saints, you still have many moments when you taste the sweetness of prayer and of the presence of God: these are visits of the Holy Spirit. When we have the Holy Spirit, the heart expands – bathes itself in divine love. A fish never complains of having too much water, neither does a good Christian ever complain of being too long with the good God. There are some people who find religion wearisome, and it is because they
have not the Holy Spirit.

If the damned were asked: Why are you in Hell? they would answer: For having resisted the Holy Spirit. And if the saints were asked, Why are you in Heaven? they would answer: For having listened to the Holy Spirit. When good thoughts come into our minds, it is the Holy Spirit who is visiting us. The Holy Spirit is a power.

The Holy Spirit supported St. Simeon on his column; He sustained the martyrs. Without the Holy Spirit, the martyrs would have fallen like the leaves from the trees. When the fires were lighted under them, the Holy Spirit extinguished the heat of the fire by the heat of divine love. The good God, in sending us the Holy Spirit, has treated us like a great king who should send his minister to guide one of his subjects, saying, "You will accompany this man everywhere, and you will bring him back to me safe and sound." How beautiful it is, my children, to be accompanied by the Holy Spirit! He is indeed a good Guide; and to think that there are some who will not follow Him. The Holy Spirit is like a man with a carriage and horse, who
should want to take us to Pans. We should only have to say "yes," and to get into it.

It is indeed an easy matter to say "yes"!... Well, the Holy Spirit wants to take us to Heaven; we have only to say "yes," and to let Him take us there. The Holy Spirit is like a gardener cultivating our souls.... The Holy Spirit is our servant.... There is a gun; well you load it, but someone must fire it and make it go off.... In the same way, we have in ourselves the power of doing good... when the Holy Spirit gives the impulse, good works are produced. The Holy Spirit reposes in just souls like the dove in her nest. He brings out good desires in a pure soul, as the
dove hatches her young ones. The Holy Spirit leads us as a mother leads by the hand her child of two years old, as a person who can see leads one who is blind. The Sacraments which Our Lord instituted would not have saved us without the Holy Spirit. Even the death of Our Lord would have been useless to us without Him. Therefore Our Lord said to His Apostles, "It is good for you that I should go away; for if I did not go, the Consoler would not come." The descent of the Holy Spirit was required, to render fruitful that harvest of graces. It is like a grain of wheat – you cast it into the ground; yes, but it must have sun and rain to make it grow and come into ear. We should say every morning, "O God, send me Your Spirit to teach me
what I am and what You are."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent day 2 - Catechism on the Love of God

(The following is from the Cure of Ars Lenten reading Plan)

Catechism on the Love of God

Our body is a vessel of corruption; it is meant for death and for the worms, nothing more! And yet we devote ourselves to satisfying it, rather than to enriching our soul, which is so great that we can conceive nothing greater – no, nothing, nothing! For we see that God, urged by the ardor of His love, would not create us like the animals; He has created us in His own image and likeness, do you see? Oh, how great is man!

Man, being created by love, cannot live without love: either he loves God, or he loves himself and he loves the world. See, my children, it is faith that we want.... When we have not faith, we are blind. He who does not see, does not know; he who does not know does not love; he who does not love God loves himself, and at the same time loves his pleasures. He fixes his heart on things which pass away like smoke. He cannot know the truth, nor any good thing; he can know nothing but falsehood, because he has no light; he is in a mist. If he had light, he would see plainly that all that he loves can give him nothing but eternal death; it is a foretaste of Hell.

Do you see, my children, except God, nothing is solid – nothing, nothing! If it is life, it passes away; if it is a fortune, it crumbles away; if it is health, it is destroyed; if it is reputation, it is attacked. We are scattered like the wind.... Everything is passing away full speed, everything is going to ruin. O God! O God! how much those are to be pitied, then, who set their hearts on all these things! They set their hearts on them because they love themselves too much; but they do not love themselves with a reasonable love-they love themselves with a love that seeks themselves and the world, that seeks creatures more than God. That is the reason why they are never satisfied, never quiet; they are always uneasy, always tormented, always upset. See, my children, the good Christian runs his course in this world mounted on a fine triumphal chariot; this chariot is borne by angels, and conducted by Our Lord Himself, while the poor sinner is harnessed to the chariot of this life, and the devil who drives it forces him to go on with great strokes of the whip.

My children, the three acts of faith, hope and charity contain all the happiness of man upon the earth. By faith, we believe what God has promised us: we believe that we shall one day see Him, that we shall possess Him, that we shall be eternally happy with Him in Heaven. By hope, we expect the fulfillment of these promises: we hope that we shall be rewarded for all our good actions, for all our good thoughts, for all our good desires; for God takes into account even our good desires. What more do we want to make us happy?

In Heaven, faith and hope will exist no more, for the mist which obscures our reason will be dispelled; our mind will be able to understand the things that are hidden from it here below. We shall no longer hope for anything, because we shall have everything. We do not hope to acquire a treasure which we already possess.... But love; oh, we shall be inebriated with it! we shall be drowned, lost in that ocean of divine love, annihilated in that immense love of the Heart of Jesus! so that love is a foretaste of Heaven. Oh, how happy should we be if we knew how to understand it, to feel it, to taste it! What makes us unhappy is that we do not love God.

When we say, "My God, I believe, I believe firmly," that is, without the least doubt, without the least hesitation... Oh, if we were penetrated with these words: "I firmly believe that You are present everywhere, that You seest me, that I am under Thine eyes, that one day I myself shall see You clearly, that I shall enjoy all the good things You have promised me! O my God, I hope that You wilt reward me for all that I have done to please You! O my God, I love You; my heart is made to love You!" Oh, this act of faith, which is also an act of love, would suffice for everything! If we understood our own happiness in I being able to love God, we should remain motionless in ecstasy....

If a prince, an emperor, were to cause one of his subjects to appear before him, and should say to him, "I wish to make you happy; stay with me, enjoy all my possessions, but be careful not to give me any just cause of displeasure," with what care, with what ardor, would not that subject endeavor to satisfy his prince! Well, God makes the same proposals to us... and we do not care for His friendship, we make no account of His promises.... What a pity!

St. Faustina Is Shown Hell

St. Faustina Is Shown Hell

Sister Faustina, the beatified [canonized April 30, 2000] Polish nun was shown Hell in 1936. Here is her account from her Diary (741): "Today, I was led by an angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one's condition will never change; (160) the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it-a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is the horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. (161) I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like. I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God. W

hat I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O my Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend You by the least sin."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cure of Ars Lent Day 1

The texts provided below are taken from the catecheses, exhortations, and sermon excerpts of the Holy Curé of Ars, Saint John Vianney. The entire series was put together by Fr. Bryan W. Jerabek.

Catechism on Salvation

There are many Christians who do not even know why they are in the world. "Oh my God, why have You sent me into the world?" "To save your soul." "And why do You wish me to be saved?" "Because I love you." The good God has created us and sent us into the world because He loves us; He wishes to save us because He loves us.... To be saved, we must know, love and serve God.

Oh, what a beautiful life! How good, how great a thing it is to know, to love and serve God! We have nothing else to do in this world. All that we do besides is lost time. We must act only for God, and put our works into His hands.... We should say, on awaking, "I desire to do everything today for You, O my God! I will submit to all that You shall send me, as coming from You. I offer myself as a sacrifice to You But, O God, I can do nothing without You. Do help me!"

Oh, how bitterly shall we regret at the hour of death the time we have given to pleasures, to useless conversations, to repose, instead of having employed it in mortification, in prayer, in good works, in thinking of our poor misery, in weeping over our poor sins; then we shall see that we have done nothing for Heaven. Oh, my children, how sad it is! Three-quarters of those who are Christians labor for nothing but to satisfy this body, which will soon be buried and corrupted, while they do not give a thought to their poor soul, which must be happy or miserable for all eternity. They have neither sense nor reason: it makes one tremble.

Look at that man, who is so active and restless, who makes a noise in the world, who wants to govern everybody, who thinks himself as important, who seems as if he would like to say to the sun, "Go away, and let me enlighten the world instead of you." Some day this proud man will be reduced at the utmost to a little handful of dust, which will be swept away from river to river, and at last into the sea.

See my children, I often think that we are like those little heaps of sand that the wind raises on the road, which whirl round for a moment, and are then scattered.... We have brothers and sisters who are dead. Well, they are reduced to that little handful of dust of which I was speaking. Worldly people say it is too difficult to save one's soul. Yet nothing is easier. To observe the Commandments of God and the Church, and to avoid the seven capital sins; or if you like to put it so, to do good and avoid evil: that is all. Good Christians, who labor to save their souls and to work out their salvation, are always happy and contented; they enjoy beforehand the happiness of Heaven: they will be happy for all eternity. While bad Christians, who lose their souls, are always to be pitied; they murmur, they are sad, they are as miserable as stones; and they will be so for all eternity. See what a difference!

This is a good rule of conduct, to do nothing but what we can offer to the good God. Now, we cannot offer to Him slanders, calumnies, injustice, anger, blasphemy, impurity, night clubs, dancing; yet that is all that people do in the world. Speaking of dances, St. Francis of Sales used to say that "they were like mushrooms, the best were good for nothing." Mothers are apt to say indeed, "Oh, I watch over my daughters." They watch over their attire, but they cannot watch over their hearts. Those who have dances in their houses load themselves with a terrible responsibility before God; they are answerable for all the evil that is done – for the bad thoughts, the slanders, the jealousies, the hatred, the revenge.... Ah, if they well understood this responsibility they would never have any dances. Just like those who make bad pictures and statues, or write bad books, they will have to answer for all the harm that these things will do during all the time they last.... Oh that makes one tremble!

See, my children, we must reflect that we have a soul to save, and an eternity that awaits us. The world, its riches, pleasures, and honors will pass away. Let us take care, then. The saints did not all begin well; but they all ended well. We have begun badly; let us end well, and we shall go one day and meet them in Heaven.

Lent: Rediscovering Our Baptism - Pope Benedict XVI

"Lent is a journey, it means accompanying Jesus as He travels to Jerusalem, the place where the mystery of His Passion, Death and Resurrection is to be fulfilled. It reminds us that Christian life is a 'road' to be travelled, consisting not so much in a law to be observed as in the person of Christ Himself, Who must be encountered, welcomed and followed".

"It is above all in the liturgy, in participation in the holy mysteries, that we are drawn into following this path with the Lord, ... reliving the events that have led us to salvation; but not as a simple commemoration, a recollection of things past", the Holy Father explained. "There is", he said, "a keyword to indicate this, which is often repeated in the liturgy: the word 'today', which must be understood not metaphorically but in its original concrete sense. Today God reveals His law and we have the opportunity to chose between good and evil, between life and death".

On Sundays during Lent we experience "a baptismal itinerary" which helps to conform "our lives to the requirements and duties of that Sacrament, which lies at the foundation of our Christian life".

"The first Sunday [of Lent], called the Sunday of temptation because it presents us with the temptation of Jesus in the desert, invites is to renew our definitive choice for God, and courageously to face the struggle that awaits us in remaining faithful to Him". The second Sunday is the Sunday of Abraham and the Transfiguration and, "like Abraham, father of believers, we too are invited to depart, to leave our own land, to abandon the certainties we have constructed and place our faith in God. We may glimpse our goal in the transfiguration of Christ, the beloved Son, in Whom we too become 'children of God'".

On the third Sunday we encounter the Samaritan woman. "Like Israel in the Exodus, in Baptism we too received the water that saves. Jesus, as He tells the Samaritan woman, has the water of life which satisfies every thirst; this water is His Spirit. ... The fourth Sunday leads us to reflect on the experience of the man 'blind from birth'. In Baptism we are freed from the shades of evil and receive the light of Christ in order to live as children of light. ... Finally, the fifth Sunday presents us with the raising of Lazarus. In Baptism we pass from death to life and become capable of pleasing God, of causing the old man to die so as to live in the spirit of the Risen One".

In Church tradition the period of Lent is characterised by practices such as fasting, almsgiving and prayer, said Pope Benedict, explaining how fasting "means abstaining from food, but it also includes other forms of privation for a more abstemious life". It "is closely linked to almsgiving ... which under the one name of 'mercy' embraces many good works". Moreover, during this period the Church "invites us to a more trusting and intense prayer, and to prolonged meditation on the Word of God".

"On this Lenten journey", the Pope concluded, "let us be attentive to welcoming Christ's invitation to follow Him more decisively and coherently, renewing the grace and commitments of our Baptism, so as to abandon the old man who is in us and clothe ourselves in Christ, thus reaching Easter renewed and being able to say with St. Paul 'it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me'"

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part V - Mons João Clá Dias

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part V - Mons João Clá Dias

V - Epilogue

Jesus taught His disciples the substance and the beauties of the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore making them doctors. Thus, well formed, it was their duty to teach others with an abundance and variety of doctrine, proportionate to the level and needs of their audience, without ever being caught "empty handed." "Because in the same way that the father of a family, should nourish his own with corporal food, so the evangelical doctor should sustain the Christian people with spiritual food."

It is also necessary - when we have others under our care - to employ all the best means of erudition, both past and present, and the most captivating didactics, to instruct and form them.

On this occasion, Jesus contemplated the future of His work, no longer merely from the eternal knowledge springing from His divinity, nor from the beatific vision of His soul in glory alone, but through His human experience. He discerned the splendours of the final outcome of all events, after all of His sufferings and torments during the Passion. he rejoiced to see, in advance, the triumph of His disciples, the triumph of the Church, and of the good in general, after the Judgement, as well as the justice of the Father falling upon those who would reject His Revelation. This is why He unveiled before the public - as well as His disciples - future panoramas, at times grave and foreboding, at other times dazzling with marvellous splendours. His listeners were occasionally filled with fear and trembling; at other moments, with consolation and hope. Fear is an excellent deterrent in face of the invitation to evil, and hope is one of the best incentives leading us to God.

Let us set our minds and hearts on the marvels of the Kingdom of Heaven, and maintain an enduring terror of eternity in Hell. Thus, we will be prepared to take our place among those guests who will be on the right of Jesus in the Final Judgement!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 4 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 4 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP

IV - Parable of the Net

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."

We continue listening to Jesus speaking in the vicinity of the Sea of Tiberius. According to experts, its waters contain almost thirty species of fish. Fr. Manuel de Tuya, OP, accurately describes the historical and geographical reality of this parable, analyzing, according to Levitical legislation, the fish that were considered impure - due to the absence of scales, etc., and others classified as bad because they were defective. Hence, once the net had been brought to the beach, the fishermen removed the fish, and the good ones were placed in vessels, while the bad ones were discarded.

This scene, so common in the daily life of His disciples, is highlighted by the Divine Master, to make it clear to them that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is indispensable to be a good citizen of this same Kingdom, which begins here with the supernatural life. Only in this way will we avoid being excluded at our Particular Judgement, and therefore, in the Final Judgement as well. "in other words, the Church is compared to a net, because it was entrusted to the hands of fishermen, and by it everyone is drawn from the waves of this present life into the Eternal Kingdom, that they should not drown in the depths of eternal death."
This Church assembles all kinds of fish, because all men are called to forgiveness: the wise and the foolish, the free and the slave, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. The net will be entirely filled, that is, the Church, when, at the end of time, the destiny of the human race will have been determined. Hence it continues, "when it was full" they drew it ashore, and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. For as the sea signifies the world, so the seashore signifies the end of the world; and as the good are gathered into vessels, but the bad cast away, so the chosen ones are received into the eternal abodes, while the reprobates, having lost the light of the inward kingdom, are cast forth into the outer darkness. Now, the net of faith holds good and bad mingled together; but upon reaching shore, those with in the net of the Church shall be revealed."

It is not only according to St Gregory that this "net" can be interpreted as an image of the Church; many authors share this opinion. The Church is composed of the just, but of sinners as well. The evil that we sometimes find in its human part should neither alarm nor scandalize us; it has been forseen. Despite this, the Church remains HOly in its essence, because it is divine. Our concern should be seeking this "pearl" and finding this "treasure", and abandoning all attachments to be good "fish" in this net.

The task of separation will fall to the Angels, on the Day of Judgement: the good on the right, the bad on the left. Holy priests will be separated from sacrilegious priests; observant religious from the sensual; honest judges from the unjust; the prudent virgins will be received, the foolish rejected; faithful spouses will be removed from among the adulterers; in short, the elect will be put on one side and the reprobates on the other.

A comprehensive description of the eternal torment of the damned in hell, and a contrasting account of the heavenly delights that the good will enjoy in eternal life would be appropriate here. However, there will surely other opportunities to deal with this important theme.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 3 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 3 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP

III - Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

"The kingdom of heaven is similar not to the merchant, but rather to the pearl; just as in the present parable, it is not like the man who finds the treasure, but rather the treasure in question." In Antiquity, pearls were considered to be of inestimable value. Hence, whoever found a pearl of excellent quality for sale was willing to vend all his goods to purchase it. The text speaks to us of 'a merchant in search of fine pearls.' Upon acquiring a pearl of the highest quality, he does not consider selling it - at least the Gospels mention nothing in this respect.

Many authors debate the secondary details. What is important to bear in mind is that this parable "has the same meaning as the previous one, differing only in matter," in other words, if circumstances should demand it, one must abandon everything one owns to obtain this treasure or pearl which is non other than the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. John Chrysostom ponders this subject: "The gospel preaching is not only a font of multiple riches - as is a treasure - but it is also precious as a pearl." And further on, completing his though, he affirms: "The truth is one; it cannot be divided into various parts. Therefore only one pearl is said to be found. And just as one who possesses a pearl of great value, knows well its wealth, while it often goes unknown by others because it is so small it can be concealed in a hand, so it is in the preaching of the Gospel; they who posses it know that they are rich, while unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure know not its value."

In Fact, in those early times, how many pagan thinkers adhered to the truth of Christianity, feeling attracted by its doctrine - some even giving their lives for love of it? They were "good pearl merchants".

On the other hand, many today have abandoned the "pearl" of the truth, preferring to descend the precipice of error, equivocation and confusion. They throw themselves fearlessly into the murky waters of indifference and tepidity with regard to their eternal salvation, the Kingdom, and even God. For these souls, the sense of being becomes increasingly torpid, almost reaching the point of no longer distinguishing between good and evil, beauty and ugliness, truth and error.

And how many know the truth, yet fail to dedicate themselves to it merely through a lack of generosity? They do not "sell everything they possess..." And who, in today's world, is willing to sacrifice all to remain in a state of grace?

The two parables complement each other harmoniously. One refers to the pulchrum of the Kingdom (that of the pearl); the other seeks to instil the concept of gain, utility and reward (that of the treasure). In the latter, the Kingdom is reflected as a freely bestowed gift ("find"); in the former, the effort ("search") is emphasized. In both, it becomes obvious that everyone seeking to acquire the Kingdom of Heaven must become detached from the goods of this earth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 2 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP

The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 2

Parable of the Hidden treasure

"The kingdom of heave is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

The secondary details are omitted by the Evangelist. Did the Divine Master deal with them, or not? We have no way of knowing. But we can imagine how captivating Jesus exposition must have been, by the very fact that he discussed themes through His humanity, and, pari pasu, was illuminating, predisposing and aiding, through grace and His divine power, the depths of each soul present.

Matthew has a definite goal in mind. This is why he summarizes the parable in its essential parts, leaving aside, for example, how this treasure was discovered. We know of astounding discoveries of this sort throughout history. Hence, it is left to our imagination to fill in the details of this story.

The man hides the treasure once again. Morally speaking, he proceeds properly, by not taking possession of the unearthed riches. At the same time he shows himself to be prudent, hiding the riches to avoid causing temptation for others who could come across them. "It is not necessary to attribute this detail [that of hiding the treasure] to the significance of the parable, because, according to my theory it is merely an ornamental part of it" Maldonado analyses this point in particular, with deep and wise insight, while commenting on the considerations of St. Jerome and St. Bede.

We are intrigued that the authors concentrate on the man who finds the treasure, but are unconcerned about the land in which it was hidden. Let us probe this point a little further.

Considering the early years of the Church, we see how much it cost Jews and converted pagans "to buy the land" in which the treasure of salvation was hidden. The renouncement required was absolute: family, goods, reputation and even one's own life. How admirable, though, was the conduct of those who embraced the Catholic Faith in those times!

Which of the two roles does present day humanity play: that of the man who wishes to buy, or that of the one who wishes to sell? Unfortunately, most facts lean towards the second hypothesis. many of us today, fall prey to the folly of becoming unconcerned with this treasure of our Faith, won at such a high price by our ancestors, and for which the Saviour shed all of His Most Precious Blood on Calvary. For what shameful price do some of us sell this sublime treasure, just as Esau sold his birthright, in exchange for a paltry dish of lentils! Today, more than ever, the "lentils" of sensuality, corruption, illicit pleasure, ambition etc. are multiplying.

We could also include here the example of a religious who allows himself to be swept away by practical affairs, forgetting the 'treasure' for which he abandoned everything in his initial fervour.

The fullness of joy of the man of the parable should remain with us uninterruptedly throughout our entire lives, as one of the effects of the true Faith. Virtue is a freely bestowed gift; it cannot be bought. However, its ongoing possession and growth require self-denial, piety and fervour. It is necessary to "sell" all of our passions, caprices, manias, vices, sentimentality, etc. - in brief, all that is evil in us. It is the best 'deal; we can make on this earth.