The Rewards of Doing the Impossible

Jesus Talking to the DisciplesWhen I met the gal who would become my wife, we were living over 1,000 miles away from each other. Although she was pretty interesting in those first few hours together, I shrugged off any possibility of a relationship, because the distance between us was just too great. Still, we got to know each other better from afar after that initial meeting, and I eventually uprooted my life – and the place I’d called home for over 10 years – and moved to be closer to her. The relationship progressed, and — long story short — we’ve been happily married for over 10 years now.

At the time, I didn’t think I would ever do something as crazy as move cross-country for a relationship, let alone a nascent one. I literally didn’t think it was possible to nearly single-handedly move my bachelor-stocked apartment in a huge rented truck, especially since I’d only learned to drive a few years earlier. But, in the end, it was worth it. I love my wife, and I’m thrilled to be with her.

This blast from my past came to mind when I considered today’s Gospel selection from Matthew. There, Jesus tells his disciples: “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.”

It’s worthwhile to take a moment and look at Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry as a whole. So much of how Jesus lived, acted, and taught was designed to shake the preconceptions of those at the time (and, of course, even our present mindsets). Rather than coming to Earth as a pillar of fire or riding a chariot with a coronation of trumpeting angels, Jesus came into our world as a humble child. Rather than deliver unto the people of Israel the mighty kingdom they were expecting, instead he gave them entry into the greatest Kingdom of all: Heaven. Rather than smiting enemies and raining destruction upon the wicked, he preached love and forgiveness as available to all.

Yes, there is still majesty for our Lord in Heaven, and the unjust will still need to face judgment if they do not repent before it’s too late. But the underlying message of Christ was so different from what people were expecting, folks couldn’t help but take notice.

This tendency to shake up the preconceived notions of those who would open their ears, hearts, and minds to Christ spread to Jesus’ parables as well. For example, Jesus makes a comparison to the coming of the Lord as a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43). It’s a great analogy for being prepared, but also a fairly shocking one to liken the epitome of Good – our Lord – with a burglar!

And thus in today’s readings, we have two analogies that mean roughly the same thing, but one of them feels a bit more shocking to me. The second one is the more relatable parable, where Jesus says, “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.” Sure, sell all you have to gain this great gift. The meaning is clear; the Kingdom of Heaven is the ultimate gift, and we need to be prepared to sacrifice everything to make sure we achieve that.

But that first analogy, where Jesus suggests that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure in a field, where the person hides the treasure and then buys the field . . . doesn’t that mean the one who found the treasure was basically cheating the person whose field it was? (Why was he even rooting around someone else’s field in the first place?) Wouldn’t it be more Christian to inform the person whose field it was, “Hey, you’ve got this amazing treasure back there”?

But the fact that Jesus is even inspiring such questions shows how important the Kingdom of Heaven is. Does following Jesus really mean leaving your family behind (Luke 14:25-27)? Does Christ expect you to sell all your belongings to be his disciple (Matthew 19:21)? Is the Lord really like a thief?

All of these questions were designed to get you to think – I mean, really think – about what it means to be a follower of Christ, to turn your life over to him, to trust in God, to think about your ultimate future and salvation. Although the message of Jesus is reaffirming and full of love, it is not just mindless platitudes designed solely to make people feel better. It’s a cry for action, a wake-up call to reevaluate your life and your view of the world.

When I moved across the country to be with the person who I would eventually marry, it was the culmination of a series of things I thought I would never do, but in so doing them, I gained immeasurable “treasure”: a wife, our son, a loving home, and a life of faith. What greater treasures await those who do what they “never” thought possible, trusting in Jesus and listening for ways his words can shake us out of the rut of our comfortable world? The rewards for doing so are no less than the Kingdom of Heaven itself.

Today’s Readings: Jer 15:10, 16-21; Ps 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18; Mt 13:44-46)

About the Author

Despite being a professional writer and editor for over 15 years, Steven Marsh is more-or-less winging it when it comes to writing about matters of faith. Steven entered the church in 2005, and since then he's been involved with various ministries, including Pre-Cana marriage prep for engaged couples, religious education for kindergarteners, and Stephen Ministry's one-on-one caregiving. Steven lives in Indiana with his wife and son. Despite having read the entirety of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he's still surprised at elements he rediscovers or reflects upon in new ways. The more Steven learns about the faith, the less he feels he knows; he's keen to emphasize that any mistakes are his own.

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10 Comments

  1. I love this reflection and it leads me to recall the lyric of this song “I found the treasure in the field”. Heaven is the treasure we must seek for the rest of our lives in our journey. God bless u always Steven.

  2. Steven; Thank you for an inspiring reflection. You followed a sign from God and your heart to be with the true love of your life. It,s a reminder of the words Come Follow Me and you will find happiness both here and in the Kingdom of Heaven. May God bless you and your family.

  3. Thanks Stev, I got a full dose from your insight, praying to translate it into action. Keep the good work going and God continue to bless you richly in His Wisdom.

  4. Thanks steve I would like to the owner of field and more so to be the who find the treasure,this can only happen when we have trust,great faith,being humble and loving,both God,fellow human being.

  5. The horrible news of the execution of a priest in France has shaken me. This gentle man who found his treasure has now gone to be with the Lord. Pray for him and all the people who serve God.

  6. Thank you for this reflection! I was puzzling over today’s Gospel while a power outage prevented my getting on line, which worked well as I have more time to appreciate your points. The person who owned the field? Must be someone who left potential uncultivated. I often think, in prayer, that through spiritual blindness, deafness, there is much of grace I leave uncultivated. Please God I will reap the treasure before I lose it! But if there is someone who can utilize the treasure better? A buried treasure is really of no value at all, it has to be dug up and used to be of value.

  7. Hey Steven,

    I agree with you on your questioning of today’s parable. Every now and then I sit back and wonder why Jesus doesn’t come and just say what He means instead of trying to confuse us.
    From what I understand, the way the Pharisees where taught in the time of our Lord was with parables. If you didn’t understand what was being said by the teacher, well you were booted out of school, so to say.
    Where does that leave us though? Especially when the parable ends with “…whoever has ears ought to hear”.
    Well, maybe God works in illogical ways. Whether someone one is out digging up a someone else’s field, a shepherd leaving 99 sheep behind to look for one or a landowner paying a days wages to laborers who hardly did a thing, He does leave us thinking about Him.

    Which isn’t a bad thing.

    Mark

  8. I wonder if we need to check out own Souls..aka field…humm..Prayers for the soul of the priest executed during mass..that is the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard…quite unnerving..we must stand firm in our faith…

  9. Thanks for the reflection. The two kinds of treasures are amazing.
    for the ones hidden in the field, one does not sweat to find them. They are just discovered.
    The second one involves hard work, looking for the fine pearls.
    But once discovered they are all precious and each sell everything he own’s to get the treasures.
    It shows that once we get our vocation, we will do everything we can to live up to it, but we discoverour vocations in different ways; for some it is easy and others not too easy- they have to struggle.
    We should treasure our vocations (treasure). The call to be holy and live for God

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