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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

44. Investing Wisely (Matthew 13:44-52)

July 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“Let me seek you in desiring you; let me desire you in seeking you; let me find you in loving you; let me love you in finding you.” St. Anselm

Matthew 13:44-52: ‘’The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.”

Christ the Lord Great leadership requires clear vision. Christ’s vision could not have been clearer. His parables fill the Gospels with brilliant snapshots of the Kingdom, taken from every angle. He speaks of something he knows vividly and completely, wanting to infect his hearers with his own volcanic enthusiasm. His descriptions of the Kingdom flow from his lips like water over a waterfall – his vision is so rich and vibrant that language itself can barely contain it. The same characteristic marks the words of the Church’s saints throughout the ages; their sayings always seem ready to explode, bursting with more meaning than they can hold. Such is the vision of our Leader; such can be our vision too, if we follow him well.

for post on Matthew 13:44-52Christ the Teacher Two characteristics of the Kingdom shine through these parables. First, its incomparable value. Accepting the message of Christ (which means accepting Christ himself – he is the pearl and the treasure), entering the community of his Church, and living faithfully the Church’s life is worth more than anything else. The treasure will give the farmer more satisfaction than the most bountiful of harvests; the pearl will give the merchant the success he has long been toiling for; the Kingdom will give us the peace and purpose we so energetically seek everywhere else. Therefore, it is worth entering the Kingdom even if we must forsake everything to do so. The steady flow of martyrs through the last twenty centuries bears witness to this; they found in Jesus Christ a cause worth living for, and a Kingdom worth dying for.

The parable of the fishing net gives us yet another reason for the Kingdom’s incomparable value. In the end, if we are found living a vital and personal relationship with Christ (this is the key – it’s not enough just to have the externals in place; not all the fish in the net – the Church – will be kept), we will enter into his glory. If not, we will suffer eternal frustration. Jesus Christ mentions no other alternative.

Christ the Friend Jesus’ wisdom surpassed the old wisdom of the Law and the Prophets, but it did not nullify it. If we have understood his teaching, we have not lost all we knew before, but only added to it – now we have both the “new and the old.” This applies not only to religious knowledge, but to all knowledge. The Christian doctor is a better doctor for being a Christian; his faith infuses his profession with deeper motivations and ennobling virtues. The Christian statesman is a better leader for being a Christian, because his faith and God’s grace enable him to serve with less thought for himself and more thought for his fellow men and women. The Christian student excels because his thirst for knowledge is coupled with a thirst to discover more about the wisdom and beauty of God hidden in the world he created. The same goes for the Christian athlete, the Christian artist, the Christian journalist…. Christ takes our hand and leads us into a fuller, more intense life in every way, as no other friend can do.

Christ in My Life I am amazed at how easily I forget how great you are. You, Lord, are a volcano of love, a torrent of wisdom, a constellation of hope. And here I am, your disciple, so close to you, yet so easily tangled up by little things. Why is my faith so weak? I believe in you. You are my Lord. I long for your joy and peace. I believe, Lord, increase my little faith…

My treasure is your friendship. It gives life and meaning to everything else – my relationships, my responsibilities, my dreams, and my battles. You have so much you want to give me, and so much you want to give others through me. All you need is for me to say yes to you each day, to follow your example of fidelity, to do your will, and love my neighbor as myself. It’s so simple, yet so hard. Be my strength, Lord…

Lord, you have made me for heaven. If I could only set my eyes on that goal and realize that this life is just a journey, so much peace would flow into my soul. Imbue me with the hope of the Resurrection, with an eagerness for the day when I will finally see you face-to-face. With the power of your love, set my heart on you…

 

PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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Art for this post on Matthew 13:44-52: Cover of The Better Part used with permission. Great Southern Cross Pearl [A pearl cluster formed naturally in the shape of a cross within an oyster which was discovered in the South Sea of Western Australia in the late 19th century], Edwin William Streeter, 1886, PD-US this is a photograph from the Freshwater and Marine Image Bank at the University of Washington. Materials in the Freshwater and Marine Image Bank are in the public domain. No copyright permissions are needed., Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • Guest

    Amen. Praise be Jesus Christ

  • Anneli Sinkko

    This is wonderful. I am preaching next Sunday in my church and here I receive encouragements and spiritual advice. For me the merchant and the one of buried treasure depict Christ who gave up everything for us and for the Kingdom. The last judgment is evident … no problems there. And the Mustard tree – solved that one too. But the final revelation came on the yeast. This speaks of us Christians. We, like a dough. are stretched, pummelled, and shaped. Then we need to sit and wait again for the yeast to work its way. And next – the hot oven. It is like we were asked to present our bodies as living sacrifice … in order to find what is God’s perfect and good will. And anybody who has baked bread knows the aroma … we the Christians, we are the aroma of Christ – the bread of life. I am loving this – the study of the Kingdom of God.

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