Monday, July 31, 2017

That was the pearl of great price (R. S. Thomas)

  I have seen the sun break through 
to illuminate a small field 
for a while, and gone my way 
and forgotten it.  But that was the 

pearl of great price, the one field that had 
treasure in it.  I realise now 
that I must give all that I have 
to possess it.  Life is not hurrying 
on to a receding future, nor hankering after 
an imagined past.  It is the turning 
aside like Moses to the miracle 

of the lit bush, to a brightness 
that seemed as transitory as your youth 
once, but is the eternity that awaits you. 

--R. S. Thomas, 
The Bright Field

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Infinite riches (A. W. Tozer)

     The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration, our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition.  That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God.  It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead.  That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awesome and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.
--A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 30, 2017: A pearl of great price...

Do we value the treasure God offers us? 

   When, in the First Book of Kings, God offers to fulfill any wish of the newly crowned King Solomon, the young man offers a surprising reply:  rather than ask for a long life or the death of his enemies or any form of material treasure, Solomon asks for an understanding heart to judge God’s people and to distinguish right from wrong.  Would that we were all so wise!  King Solomon understands the value of wisdom, God’s wisdom, and desires to see as God sees, so as better to live his life in relationship with the Lord by dispensing godly, life-giving justice to those over whom he rules.  To do so, he need only follow the dictates of Psalm 119, loving God’s commands, recognizing the precious treasure that God’s word represents to those who seek to do justice:  The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces, the psalmist sings.  Do we value wisdom as much as Solomon?

   In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus suggests that we must be similarly wise as we consider the value of the kingdom of heaven.  Seeing as God sees, opening ourselves to God’s wisdom, we recognize that the kingdom is precious; Jesus likens it to a treasure buried in a field for which we might give all we have, or a pearl of great price.  Likewise at the end of the age, Jesus says, when what is good, like the fish in the net, will be saved, whereas what is bad they throw away.

   What is precious in our life?  What would we give to attain that treasure?  To seek the wisdom and judgment of God, to pursue an ongoing understanding of God’s commands, to desire the kingdom above all, we must know what it is we believe in, what we live for, what we are committed to with the whole of our being.   If we conform to the image of Jesus, the firstborn, as Paul tells the Romans, then we too are called, called to share God’s wisdom, called to seek a profound understanding of God’s justice, called to keep God’s words and to share God’s love, that all might value the kingdom of heaven.  And that is a true treasure.

This post is based on OLMC’s Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The living expression of God's kindness (St. Mother Teresa)

Let no one ever come to you 
without leaving better & happier. 
Be the living expression of God’s kindness: 
kindness in your face, 
kindness in your eyes, 
kindness in your smile. 

--St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We plant the seeds (Bishop Ken Untener)

   It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. 
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. 
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. 
No statement says all that could be said. 
No prayer fully expresses our faith. 
No confession brings perfection. 
No pastoral visit brings wholeness. 
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. 
No set of goals and objectives includes everything. 
This is what we are about. 
We plant the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. 
We lay foundations that will need further development. 
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. 
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. 
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. 
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. 
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. 
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. 
We are prophets of a future not our own. 

--Bishop Ken Untener, 
The Romero Prayer,
written to inspire pastors,
but full of wisdom for all
who are endeavoring to
bring about the kingdom of God.