This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The kingdom of heaven is like....


The kingdom of heaven is like....  Mt 13:44
The 13th chapter of Matthew's gospel is known as the Parable Discourse.  It is a series of parables that all begin with the words quoted above:  "The kingdom of heaven is like" a sower, pearl of great price, a field with a treasure, a field with both wheat and weeds, yeast, mustard seed, etc.  Although the early parables are spoken to crowds that contain both disciples and those who are not, especially the Jewish authorities of various sorts, the later ones are spoken only to the disciples and the great explanation of the parable of the sower is only for the disciples, i.e. those who believe.

Those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will understand the message.  But those who are insulated from new understandings by their engagement with the old will not understand no matter if they hear and they see.  If one comes to Jesus without preconceptions and without unchangeable notions of how things are, one will understand his message.  One will understand what he means by the Kingdom of Heaven.

It seems to me that the Kingdom of Heaven is the reality that is hidden in the "world" and yet provides the ultimate meaning of my life in the world.  It is difficult, though not impossible, to arrive at such a conclusion or one very much like it by focusing on the world and my experience in it.  But the great wisdom men and women of the human tradition have always tried to share their insights with us.  Erich Fromm summarized that wisdom in his conclusion that each of us have to make a fundamental choice or our stance toward life.  His question was simple:  What is most important to us:  to have or to be?  His review of those he called the Great Masters of Living concluded that a full and satisfying human life came from a "being" rather than a "having" orientation.  He included Jesus in this group along with Moses, Marx, Mohamed, Buddha, Freud and others.

The good news of Jesus goes well beyond this important understanding, however.  Jesus was not just concerned with the quality of human life as it unfolds but with life everlasting to which he invited us all.  Most the parables end with a description of the "end of the age" when the angels will sort out the righteous from the evil people with the latter consigned to everlasting fire and the former to everlasting life.

Jesus invites us to consider that there is something of vital importance hidden in our lives as they unfold in the world.  It is everlasting life.  Do we hear and understand?