Grace to you!
The reflection today is a continuation of the previous week’s regarding the parables of God's Kingdom. Here, we focus on the Kingdom's incredible worth as the ultimate good, beauty, and truth.
One of the contemporary geniuses I have come to research is Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla. He is the South African, who equally happens to be a Canadian and United States citizen, and one of the leading figures in AI technologies. He co-founded and leads SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. I like his commitment to warn us of the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence.
Before I continue with Elon, some may say: why use Elon, a non-religious minded person, to speak about the unique value of God's Kingdom? Well, that is the point of an analogy. From a relevant analogy, we get to the crux of issues, in addition to other reasons not necessary to include here.
Reading about him and his off-the-chart innovations, one can see how dogged commitment in searching and working towards a singular goal, led him from one discovery to another. We could also see how he found other things along the way of his commitments to discipline and hard work, which he didn't set out to find. An aspect of his character that is fascinating to me is his willingness to forgo everything and commit to that one thing he firmly believed would lead to his goal. Working 100 hours a week is not meant for everyone. He has to do what he has to do. At one time, it cost him everything. I mean everything, including money, jobs, and friends. Anyone could have given up. But he didn’t. Now he is the second wealthiest person in the world and fast pacing to the first.
Elon is like numerous others we have known who have changed the world. From ancient history to the best minds of our time, it takes the heart to let go of other things that do not matter to find the one thing that matters. It is one of the qualities of wisdom. It is wisdom to distinguish between good and bad and all the in-betweens, what has value and what doesn't. Many could pass by the greatest treasure and never even recognize it was there. In part, this is because they are distracted with too many things that don't matter. The wise person sees and knows and does everything possible to possess the one thing that matters.
Solomon, the wise king of the Old Testament, knew this truth. He would not ask God for anything else but the great wisdom and discernment in his responsibility as a leader (see I kings 3:5, 7-12). With wisdom and understanding, every other thing falls in its proper order.
The Blessed Lord compares God's Kingdom to a buried treasure one discovers, and a pearl one finds as one is searching. Note that in both cases, the characters in the story were searching and not lazing about, waiting for manna and grace to fall from heaven. Though faith is a gift, it requires our commitments too. In each case, the persons take one significant action, namely, selling everything else in order to acquire this one thing that matters the most (Mt 13:44-46).
Here, the believer is reminded of the truth that only one thing is worth our giving up everything else. It is the Kingdom of Heaven. It is God. Nothing is worth any value more than the love and the knowledge of God. To use the phrase of a German philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich, it is the object of our "ultimate concern" (Dynamics of Faith, 2001, p.2). Nothing is worth our ultimate loyalty than singlemindedness in God's things.
If one were to give up everything for something, the person of faith knows that one thing worth dying for is God's Kingdom and reign. No surprise, the heroism of martyrdom is praised as the highest gift of the believer to Christ's body. "The blood of the martyrs," says the North African Church Father, Tertullian, "is the seed of the Church."
Because God's Kingdom is that invaluable treasure and pearl of great value, the person commits to it out of delight, not pain or compulsion. When you find the diamond that you credibly know is worth a nation's wealth, would you feel any sense of loss selling everything you have to acquire it? I wouldn't think so. The value is its own persuasion.
The value of the Kingdom is so high that anyone could give up anything for it. For me, this is the sign of the committed believer—giving it all for God. The person does so with joy and passion too. The angelic doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was spot-on when he suggested that our faith commitments necessarily mature with our love for it (Summa Theologica,1-11, q.62, a.4). Because we love the Kingdom—or rather, we find it a treasure worth every investment—it is a delight.
The Swiss theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar describes it in a somewhat unique way. He made a compelling argument in his massive volumes on the transcendentals (the beautiful, the good, and the true). In the first volume, he argues that because God is the true beauty and Christ the revelation of that beauty to us, we are drawn to the Kingdom. Consequently, we discover the good and truth therein also.
In other words, the hidden treasure and the pearl metaphor capture the reality that the Kingdom of God is the best Good, the highest Truth, and the most excellent Beauty of the human heart and soul. No truth or good or beauty is comparable to the Kingdom of God.
In the Kingdom, as in Christ, everything holds together. Therein, we find the Good we desire, the Truth we seek, and the Beauty we behold.
Make or continue to abide by that radical choice for God, and you have the best going for you. Nothing is worth more.
I am praying for the grace of wisdom and discernment. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sunday Week 17 A: I kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.