Before his departure, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, would guide us to all truth and reveal to us the things to come (cf. Jn 16:13-14). At the center of “the things to come” is “all truth” about Jesus himself, and about the wonders that he would accomplish through his Death and Resurrection. For when he spoke those words at the Last Supper, he was about to complete his mission and win for us eternal glory and every heavenly blessing. The Holy Spirit who has been given to us comes with his Seven Gifts, one of which is the Gift of Understanding. Understanding enables us to grasp the truths that God has revealed about himself and about the life he shares with us.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul announces one of the revealed truths that we rejoice to welcome: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” We understand this when we accept that it is God who has first loved us and has destined us for his glory (cf. 1 Jn 4:10). He has always been working out all things for our good. Our part is to respond to his love with love. The Psalmist today shows us that to love God is to do as he commands: “Lord, I love your commands.” God has given us his commands to help us remain in his love. To love him and have all things work for good – which is to attain the eternal glory he has prepared for us – we need to love his commands and live by them. It is a matter of having our priorities right.
In today’s first reading, King Solomon demonstrates admirably what it means to have our priorities right. We read that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Strikingly, of all the things he could ask of God, Solomon asks for “an understanding heart” to be able to “distinguish right from wrong” and do God’s will. In other words, Solomon asks for what we know today as the Gift of Understanding. Though the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, and the Gifts of the Spirit had not yet been manifested, we can glimpse the work of the Spirit already in Solomon’s wise request. The Spirit helps us grasp supernatural realities; and he strengthens us to act according to what we understand. As a sign that Solomon had made a good choice, God “makes all things work for good” for him. In addition to the understanding heart that Solomon asked for, God blesses him with riches, glory and long life.
The example of Solomon helps us understand today’s Gospel parables about the Kingdom of God. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field. Someone finds it and out of joy sells all that he has and buys the field in order to possess the treasure. Jesus also says that the Kingdom is like “a pearl of great price” which someone finds and then sells all he has to buy it. What is this Kingdom that is of paramount importance and value? It is not something abstract. It is fully present in Jesus Christ himself and in what he offers, namely, a life of endless glory. Through these parables, he is saying to us, If you only knew the ineffable value of what I am offering you, you would happily forfeit any other thing in order to possess it! St. Paul, keenly aware of this truth, puts it this way: “because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of all other things … if only I can gain Christ and be given a place in him” (Phil 3:8).
In our day, when many people are complacent about eternal life, it becomes a bit difficult to understand what Jesus is saying through these parables. If “everyone goes to heaven,” then why bother paying a great price for it? However, Jesus’ third parable in today’s Gospel exposes this error. While the first two parables present the excellence of eternal life and the urgent need to do all that one can to possess it, the parable of the net warns that the good and the bad will be sorted out on the day of judgment. And there will be great suffering for those who have not responded to Jesus’ invitation to accept the pearl of great price.
Life in the Kingdom of God is truly worth a great price! Jesus has purchased it for us at the cost of his Precious Blood – the price of making all things work out for good for us. The more deeply we ponder this, the more we realize our need for a wise and understanding heart, and the more we recognize the absolute urgency of making the Kingdom of God our highest priority.
Is to love God’s commandments and to live by them one of my priorities to attain eternal life? Am I willing to give up everything for the Kingdom of God? Do I ask God for a wise and understanding heart rather than riches, a long life and fame?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 16, no. 6. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.