The Field Of Dreams
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
My dear encountered couples:
Some people look upon their religion as sort of a dry cleaners, their church as sort of a neighborhood laundry. They think the only purpose is for cleaning their souls. Then they are to merely spend the rest of their lives avoiding sin, expecting that when they die God, with open arms, will welcome them into heaven.
That’s sort of like the person who gets his clothes cleaned at the local cleaners, takes them home and hangs them in the closet, expected to stay there in perfect condition until that special occasion comes along. Some clothes have been known to hang in closets for so long that Mr. and Mrs. Moth get to them long before that special occasion ever arrives. And when it finally does arrive they are found to be full of holes, good for nothing but to be used as dust rags or thrown out with the rest of the trash.
Clothes are meant to be worn, not just kept clean and protected from dirt and dust. Christians are meant to love, not just hide from the world and avoid sin. Jesus Christ came to live in our world among peoples of all kinds. He came to teach us how to do the same. Jesus came to show us how to live and love everybody and anybody. When we use Christianity and our churches merely for cleaning our own souls, with little care and concern for anybody else, we become like those clothes in the closet. We eventually become good for nothing, not even for dust rags. And we are thrown away, to be hauled off on the garbage truck to you know where.
Jesus makes it quite obvious in his parable today what effect Christianity is supposed to have on us. It is supposed to move us to action, to what could very well be called daring action. We are expected by God to take risks, not just to play life safe.
Jesus said to the crowd: “The reign of God is like a buried treasure which a man found in a field. He hid it again, and rejoicing at his find went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Or again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When he found one really valuable pearl, he went back and put up for sale all that he had and bought it.”
These men took risks. They didn’t let fear of failure and bankruptcy stop them. And I’ll bet they did something with that buried treasure and the pearl after they got them. I’ll bet they didn’t just leave them buried and unused. The Christian who keeps within himself the gifts he has received from God will someday find them withered and all dried up, if he is able to find them any longer in himself at all.
To be Christian demands we are willing to take chances, to give up anything and everything, if necessary, for Christ. It means we are not merely to spend our lives avoiding sin, keeping our souls unsullied and squeaky clean. To be like Christ means that we are willing to get out into the dirty world and do something to better it. We are to live to improve the lives of others.
We are to serve others, we are to share what we have with people who are in need. And not just the worthy people, but the unworthy as well. We are to look out for one another, even those counted among the least of us. Our lives are to be lived with positive concern for the welfare of others. “Positive concern!” That means we are to put into action our concern. We are to do helpful things. Basically, we are to wash one another’s feet as Christ washed the apostles feet at the Last Supper, making it clear to them they were to do the same to each other. Let us hope he was speaking symbolically and not literally. But we must be willing and ready to do both.
Big order, isn’t it? Certainly is! Being Christian is no easy job. Only those who God knows to be really serious about life are called to it. Being Christian is being called, you know. And God doesn’t call slouches. God calls only those into his service whom he expects to do their best to help him spread his love and continue the saving work of his Son. Christianity is a calling to total abandonment to heaven’s divine cause. An abandonment like those men who abandoned all their money and possessions when they sold everything they had in order to buy the field with the hidden treasure and that one really valuable pearl. To be Christian is a calling to people who are known by God to have what it takes to give their all, when necessary, for the kingdom of God.
YOU ARE CHRISTIAN! YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!
Some people look upon their religion as sort of a dry cleaners, their church as sort of a neighborhood laundry. They think the only purpose is for cleaning their souls. Then they are to merely spend the rest of their lives avoiding sin, expecting that when they die God, with open arms, will welcome them into heaven. You and I know better than that, don’t we? Let us pray so!