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Each month, Living with Christ gives you everything you need to prepare for Mass, to participate in Mass, and to reflect on the experience.

Daily Prayer

Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.”

Jesus, your disciples
may have understood
the point of
the treasure in the field
and the pearl of great price,
but whenever I wrestle
with these parables,
the kingdom of heaven,
ends up being
more and more
mysterious to me.

The kingdom of heaven
is surely a treasure
worth searching for,
something that brings great joy,
a pearl of great price
that I should
be ready to give up
everything for.

And yet, Lord,
if that is the main point here,
why did you tell these stories
the way you did?

Scholars tell me
that your original hearers
would have heard
the parable of a person finding
the treasure in the field
as a story in which
the person deliberately
cheats the rightful owner
out of the treasure.
And then, in a society where
everybody knows everything
about everyone else,
the minute that person
tries to spend
any of the treasure,
everyone would know
what he had done,
and the shame
they would project on him
would be overwhelming.
He’s cheated to acquire
a treasure he can’t spend!

In the same way,
your original hearers
would have been
perplexed by that pearl.
If the merchant spent
everything to buy it,
where would he live?
What would he eat?
He couldn’t hold on to it.
He’d have to sell it again
just to survive.
Surely all the other merchants
would have been amused.

Jesus, I know that
your parables are not
simple little fables
with a straightforward moral.
Just as you’re not suggesting
—in other parables—
that I become a dishonest steward
or a corrupt judge,
I’m pretty sure you’re not
suggesting here that I cheat others
for the sake of the kingdom
or become a rather
stupid merchant.

But what, Lord,
are you saying?

Jesus, help me to wrestle
with these parables.
Help me to see
that your parables,
like the kingdom itself,
are mysteries I can
never fully grasp or own.
Fill me with your Spirit today,
Help me to remember that
the only way to truly understand
your parables—or the kingdom—
is by experiencing them
as I strive to live as your disciple.

Help me, Jesus, always
to live as your disciple.
Amen.

  Fr. Richard Lamoureux, AA Photo
Fr. Richard Lamoureux, AA
this month's reflection image
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