"Where would any of us be were it not for the conspiracy of love and mercy taking place behind our backs, whereby brethren we perhaps know nothing of bear us, in our unconscious impotency, to the Source of strength and life?" (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word)
The following is a reflection on the first verse of the Gospel reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 13:44-52)...if only I had more time, I would work through the whole thing, but it is too much to take in all at once. Oh, the riches of the Word of God!
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
Ομοιαεστινηβασιελιατωνουρανωνθησαυρωκεκρυμμενωεντωαγρω, which a person finds and hides again,
ον ευρων ανθροπος εκρυψεν,
and out of joy goes
and sells all that he has and buys that field.
και πωλει παντα οσα εχει και αγοπαξει τον αγρον εκεινον.
The first half of the verse, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again,” reminds me of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Luke 2:19, we are told that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” And again, at Luke 2:51, it says that Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart."
At the moment of the Incarnation, Mary was fully initiated into the mysteries of the Kingdom in a way that no other human being ever was or will be again. The Kingdom of God literally dwelled within her. The first thirty years of Jesus’ life, were, for the most part, hidden ones. The Word was buried in the field of Mary’s womb. She knew He was there and rejoiced at His coming and His presence, but kept the revelation a secret from all people except a few others whom God had designated as his handmaidens, heralds, and guardians—Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and John the Baptist, and of course, Joseph the Just.
In his reflections on this first half of the verse, Erasmo Leiva Merikakis writes:
“We may say, in fact, that the Parable of the Hidden Treasure is a metonomy for the Incarnation itself: the greatest of treasures—the Father’s Beloved—became Emmanuel and was hidden by the Holy Spirit within the good earth of the Virgin’s womb.” (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word II, 294)
“the treasure in question is the mystery of God giving himself to us in Christ. This treasure already lies closer to the world’s heart than we ourselves can ever be, worldlings though we are.” (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word II, 294)
The discovery of the kingdom of heaven leads to abounding joy—τηςχαρας. A joy so great, in fact, that nothing can diminish it or take it away. Yet it takes everything we have...we are compelled to “sell” all that we have, holding nothing back. Integrity is key here. To purchase the field we must not only sell all that we have, but we must go through these transactions honestly, humbly, virtuously, lovingly—the kingdom demands nothing less; the kingdom inspires only this. We cannot engage in falsity, trickery, or prostitution of our goods in order to gain access to the field. If we do, the kingdom will be lost to us. Only love holds the key to the joyous stripping of self and careless self forgetfulness. This self-emptying is best expressed by the Greek word, κενοσις, which Paul uses in his letter to the Philippians as he speaks of Christ: « εαθτονεκενωσεν» “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7) Obedience is another key—just as Jesus was obedient to the Father (and to Mary and Joseph, see above/Luke 2:51), so also must we be obedient to God and to those with legitimate authority over us. And this loving obedience, in turn, will lead to freedom, joy, and the in-breaking of God’s kingdom among us...Maranatha, Lord Jesus, quickly come!