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. 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. (Matt 13:44-46)
IN my last three writings, we have talked about finding peace in suffering and joy in the big picture and finding mercy when we least deserve it. But I could summarize it all in this: the kingdom of God is found in the will of God. That is to say, the will of God, His Word, unlocks for the believer every spiritual blessing from Heaven, including peace, joy, and mercy. The will of God is the pearl of great price. Understand this, seek this, find this, and you will have everything.
THE KEY IN THE BOX
In Christ’s parable, the field is worthless until the treasure, say a pearl, is found. So too, a grain of wheat remains just a grain until it falls to the ground and dies, and then it bears fruit. The Cross remains a scandal and a tragedy until the Resurrection in which it then becomes the source of an ocean of graces. Jesus said,
My food is to do the will of the one who sent me… (John 4:34)
Food remains what it us until it is eaten, and then it becomes energy and life for the one who eats it.
In each of these analogies, the will of God is like a key in a gift box. Each and every moment, God presents us with this gift. But be careful! Sometimes the box is wrapped in suffering; other times, it is wrapped in contradictions; and yet other times it is wrapped in consolations. However the will of God comes to you, within it is always a key that unlocks grace in your life. Just as you can receive a gift from someone and leave it unopened, so too can we with the will of God. Unexpected suffering may come upon us. We may run from it; we may curse it, we may absolutely refuse it. And so, the key that unlocks the graces of Heaven remains enclosed, hidden from our hearts. But when we open that gift, though wrapped in the distressing disguise of suffering, our trust, docility, and humility opens the door to the treasury of Heaven’s graces. Then, the will of God becomes the pearl that transforms the field of weeds into a vineyard, the grain of wheat that bears a hundred fold, the cross that gives way to the power of the Resurrection. And that which is bitter to the tongue becomes sweet in the stomach, quenching one’s thirst and satiating one’s hunger.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides… (Matt 6:33)
In another parable, Jesus says that the Kingdom we should seek comes to us by way of His Word, that is, His Holy Will.
Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. (Matt 13:18-23)
The act of opening the gift box of God’s Will can be surrounded by many temptations and battles. When presented with the Word of God, His will for your life, the Evil One can appear and convince you otherwise. He can tell you that God’s will is too demanding, the Church too behind the times. Or he’ll tempt you to believe that God has abandoned you or is punishing you for your bad behavior ("getting what you deserve!"), or that it’s really not the will of God for you at all. Then there are those who are not rooted in Jesus through a life of prayer and the Sacraments, and tribulation or a little persecution from their peers carries them away from the will of Go; they become too lukewarm and afraid to open such a gift box. Then there are those who, though rooted more deeply in God, allow the distractions, anxieties, and lure of attachments to draw them away from hearing and doing the will of God. At last, there are those who have discovered the pearl of great price. They realize that the will of God is their food; that within the bland grain of His Word lies power and life and peace and joy. They trust that the bitter food is really a banquet of grace.
THE COMING ERA
Dear friends, God is preparing His Church for a period of peace on earth when His kingdom will come and His "will be done on earth as it is in heaven." That is to say, that the sufferings of this present time being endured in the Body of Christ are a preparation for us to live by the will of God. In the trials which are coming upon the world, the Church will be stripped naked and we will have nothing to rely upon but Him and His Holy Will. But it is and will be our Food; it will be our Strength; it will be our Life; it will be our Hope; it will be our Joy; it will be the key that unlocks the power and graces of Heaven upon the face of the earth.
And so, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, seek to know what the will of God is, that pearl of great price, and if necessary, go and "sell all you have" that you may possess it.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:35-36)