This weekend we conclude our amazing journey through the Parables of Matthew. These are intense lessons that we need to take to heart. Let’s review just a little bit of what we have learned.
Two weeks ago we heard the parable of the sower and the seed. This parable revealed three basic problems that prevent true conversion: ignorance, shallowness, and distractions, represented by the hard path, the rocks, and the weeds. The solution is obvious. Good soil is represented by cultivation of spiritual knowledge, spiritual depth, and spiritual focus.
Last week we heard the parables of the good seed and the weeds, the mustard seed, and the yeast in the dough. These parables revealed the truth that God is loving and patient, always working for our conversion. And our conversion grows like a little seed or like yeast. This is the work of God in us. God invites us to enter into more deeply into prayer, into his presence. It is there with God that the kingdom grows in our hearts, like yeast making the dough to rise.
With this foundation, the Lord invites us to go deeper this week. Our final three parables are the Treasure Buried in the Field, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Net Thrown into the Sea. Two of the parables are about hunting for spiritual treasure and the last one is about the end of the age and the separation of the wicked from the righteous.
So let’s go treasure hunting first. Now, when I was a boy one of the fun things we did in our family on birthdays was to send the person on a quest to get their present. So the birthday card had the first clue. They had to solve the clue to get the next clue, and so forth, until they got to the place where the present was. This was a lot of fun. I loved writing clues, coming up with clever hints to lead the recipient to their present.
Treasure hunting is a very human thing. We love adventure. We love solving a mystery. And God, knowing our human curiosity, leads us further into his kingdom by sending us on a treasure hunt. God wants to lead us to joy, and to the ultimate treasure of the eternal kingdom. In fact, the treasure is here among us, we just need to discover it for ourselves.
God gives us the map to find spiritual treasure. All of the clues are found in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Teaching of the Church. With these three things as markers on the map, we are able to find that treasure in the field, that pearl of great price, that is worth more than all of the stuff that we possess.
Now, to read the map, we need to make sure that we hear the voice of Jesus our Good Shepherd. This is fundamental. Every single one of us is called in this day and time to train ourselves in hearing the voice of Jesus in our lives. As the signs of the times continue to unfold, those who hold firmly to listening to the voice of Jesus will find their treasure.
Remember, Jesus loves each and every one of us and wants to speak to our hearts. He wants to lead us further into joy. Remember this, no matter what else is happening in the world, no matter what the evil one tries to throw at us. God is love. God is good. God leads us into life. This is the very nature of God. So His voice is the one we want to hear, rather than the corrupting voices of the spirit of the world.
So let us train ourselves to hear the voice of Jesus. I offer to you three “clues” for hearing the voice of Jesus.
#1. Ask Jesus to speak to you. Ask with faith, expecting Jesus to say “yes.” Remember, Jesus loves you wants to speak to your hearts and lead you into life. So ask. Spend time in prayer with Jesus and ask. He will be delighted when you do this.
#2. Use the Mass as your treasure field. Here at Mass we proclaim the Word of God, we pray powerful prayers, we sing wonderful songs, we preach homilies – and try to make them good. In all of these instances, even in the silence, God will speak to our hearts. That moment of Holy Spirit inspiration will come if we listen expectantly. That is the voice of God. So pay attention! Come to Mass prepared to worship and to listen. The soul that is prepared by cultivating spiritual knowledge, spiritual depth, and spiritual focus will be the soul that finds the treasure of God’s voice. Whereas the soul that is ignorant, shallow, and distracted will have no chance to find the treasure. So, dear people, prepare your souls for Mass carefully. Choose to make the Mass your treasure field, like in the parable today. If we do that, then we will be able to hear the Lord speaking to our hearts. And from the heart of the Mass, Jesus will lead us to discover yet even more treasure.
#3. Write down what Jesus shows you. When God speaks to our hearts, it is the most important thing we can hear. So let’s do this together. Get a notebook, or a journal, or a folder. Write down the inspirations you receive and keep them. The words of Jesus are “pearls of great price.” Decide to keep them as priceless gifts from the Lord. Get a spiritual notebook. Write down what Jesus tells you and shows you.
The final parable is the Net Thrown into the Sea. This represents the end of the age and the final judgment – the separation of the righteous from the wicked. For each and every single one of us, this judgment is right around the corner. It comes at the end of our lives on earth. And for each of us, no matter how old we live to be, the time is now to say “yes” to God’s plan for our lives. Do not delay conversion.
And for all of us here, I say that reading the signs of the times leads us to believe that we are on the edge of a great storm in the world. A time great change and of the sifting of people’s hearts. A time of separation where the darkness will grow increasingly dark. But the light of God’s saints will shine ever more brightly.
The Lord leads us on an amazing journey. May our hearts become that good cultivated soil where the seed of God’s word can take root. May our homes become that place where the seed can grow and bear fruit. May our lives demonstrate the great treasure that is being given to us – the gift of Jesus himself, who is leading us to eternal life.