July 27, 2014
Traditionally Christians interpret this hidden treasure and pearl of great price in Matthew’s gospel as Christ. However, Celine once wrote to her sister, St Therese, saying “Look at the merchants, how much trouble they go to in order to earn money, and we can gather treasures for heaven at each moment w/o giving ourselves any trouble; we have only to gather diamonds with a RAKE.” This is how she saw her monastic life…piles of diamonds surrounding her everywhere because she was able to see Christ in every moment and activity of her day. Is that how we see our monastic life? Do we find hidden pearls in our liturgy, in our workplace, in our interruptions, in our encounters with each and all our sisters?
The criteria for and the purpose of our monastic vocation is “to seek God”…and to find him – everywhere and anywhere! So this field can be interpreted as the whole of our monastic journey. What makes these things diamonds and pearls is the inner vision of the heart. This is why some people can pass by the field ignorant and unaware, while others long to sell all they possess to obtain what lies buried in the hidden soil.
Once I was talking to a priest from the Congo and he told that in the collection basket he gets quite a few diamonds. He said that the parishioners do not have money but they do find diamonds and so they offer those instead. I was shocked because diamonds seem more valuable than money and I did not really understand why they did not sell them for cash and then give a portion of it to the collection basket. (You can see how my Western mind works!) But the symbolism hit me. These people gave what they had; they gave what they could. It is like what St Mark said in his gospel about the widow with her mite: “She gave from her want, all that she had to live on”. (Mk12) This is a challenge to us! We don’t have possessions as such, but how much do we hold on to what we do possess: our time. Quite a few sisters in our community give away their time so freely to serve others as needs arise. Ironically, it is the sisters who are most available that seem to be most free. Can we really say that we desire to “sell all” yet clutch and protect our own time? I was impressed during our jubilee celebrations how so many in community reached out to all our guests to make them feel so welcomed and how so many sisters who were tired would sit with our Sr Regina rather than sleep.
But let’s get back to the field which we were calling our monastery and our monastic life. I remember reading an article entitled, “How to make our Troubles our Treasures”. Again it was about finding treasures hidden in the troubles and tribulations of our lives. It is in our troubles and trials that we draw closest to God. It is there we learn the compassion, forgiveness, charity, and wisdom of Jesus Christ. It is there we learn to see with the heart…this is a call to conversion, something we vow to do all of our monastic life. The article pointed out some examples of the hidden treasures in unexpected places, detected only by a pure heart unclouded by self-absorption, angers, or fears. When the adulterer was faced with an angry mod and the death penalty, there appears Jesus to show her mercy and gentleness in an unobtrusive way. When Peter in fear denied the Lord and Thomas doubted, relying only on physical sight, both were brought to a deeper faith, understanding, and love. It was Bartimaeus’ blindness that made him cry out to Jesus in a crowd that didn’t realize they should do the same. Jesus stops and calls Bartimaeus near to him giving him vision. Even the good thief found Jesus in the strangest of circumstances. For him the cross was the field that laid the hidden treasure. St Paul repeated over and over in his words and actions how he desired to carry the sufferings of Christ so that he may be molded into Him and have eternal life. This was St Paul’s treasure and it was “all he wanted”. At Vigil’s we are reading Job. Again we will see Job’s crosses and curses become blessings and bliss. These are people who learned to make their troubles their treasures!
So where do our troubles, trials, and pains lead us? This past month we had watched with our Sr Regina as she waited for death. In a profound and tangible way she showed us the way to die with joy. She knew that her troubles and pains were leading her to God. Her hope, faith, and graciousness revealed to us that she had found that pearl of great price in her monastery, in her community, and in her vocation. Regina taught us the strongest lesson in her weakest moments.
Is there anything that keeps us from picking up the shovel and begin digging deeper into the soil of our heart? Or as Celine said – all we need to do is pick up the rake and gather! To the pure of heart, there is no hidden treasure…because it is everywhere! All we need to do is put on the mind of Christ – to see as He sees…for it is the pure of heart who shall see God. So let today’s gospel challenge us to reflect and be attentive to the pearl of great price that we possess and that we long for… Jesus Christ everywhere among us!
July 27, 2014