Project Description

17A 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 /  Romans 8:28-30  /  Matthew 13:44-52

I want to start out with a classic story

in spiritual direction circles.

 

It’s a story used in many religious traditions—

including our Christian tradition.

 

It goes like this:

 

Each day—

every day—

the disciple would

ask his Spiritual Master the same question:

 

“How shall I find God?”

 

“How shall I find God?”

 

And each day—

every day—

the Spiritual Master

would give the same mysterious answer:

 

“Though desire,

you find God through desire.”

 

And then the disciple would respond:

 

“But Master,

you know I desire God with all my heart,

then why haven’t I found God?”

 

The Master would say nothing.

 

One day the Spiritual Master happened

to be bathing in the river with the disciple.

 

And all of a sudden,

the Spiritual Master pushed the

disciple’s head underwater and held it there

as the poor fellow struggled desperately

to break loose and breathe.

 

The next day,

it was the Master who began the conversation.

 

“Why did you struggle so

when I held your head underwater?

 

“Because I was gasping for air,”

the disciple replied.

 

“Ah,”

said the Master,

“When you’re given the grace to

gasp for God

the way you were gasping for air

then you will find God.”

 

Great story isn’t it.

 

How shall we find God?

 

“Though desire,

we find God through desire.”

 

And when we’re given the grace

to gasp for God

the way we gasp for air

then we will find God.

 

Jesus’ parable of the pearl of great price

that we just heard starts out like this:

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is

like a merchant searching—

Searching. . . .

for fine pearls. . . .

 

How shall we find God?

 

Through desire . . .

Through constant searching.

 

Here’s another story,

this one is a true one.

 

In 1979,

school teachers in Poland

were told by the communist authorities

to inform their students

that the man who was about to visit

their country was their enemy. . . .

 

That his great communication skills made him

“dangerous, because he charms everyone.”

 

Who was this dangerous enemy of the people

coming to Poland?

 

It was Pope John Paul II.

 

Pope John Paul II was returning to

his home country for the first time

since becoming Pope.

 

At that time,

under the Soviet-controlled

communist government of Poland—

Poland was officially an atheist country.

 

But the people of Poland were

still Catholic to the core.

 

As soon as the Pope landed in Poland,

he kissed the ground of the land

where he grew up. . . .

 

and the bells of churches throughout

the country began to ring in celebration.

 

The communist authorities

tried everything they knew to

discourage the Polish people

from coming out to see him.

 

But it was to no avail.

 

Their tactics actually backfired on them.

 

The Polish people came out in droves—

by the millions—

to see their native son who

was now the Bishop of Rome.

 

What would the Pope say to the Polish people?

 

At the public mass

thousands upon thousands upon thousands

of Poles squeezed into

Victory Square in Warsaw.

 

And millions more watched on television.

 

A late afternoon sun

gave the setting a soft glow.

 

There was a minor clash between

the secular and the religious

when a Polish Army band began to

play a military anthem . . .

 

while the choir—

the choir leading the singing at the Mass

sang Ave Maria.

 

And when he Polish Pope gave his homily

he said this:

 

“Christ cannot be kept out

of the history of [humanity]

 

in any part of the globe,

at any longitude or latitude of geography.”

 

“The exclusion of Christ from the

history of [humanity] is an act against [humanity]. . . .

the history of each person unfolds in Jesus Christ.”

 

“The history of each person unfolds in Jesus Christ.”

 

There was great applause

and the Polish people spontaneously started chanting

“We want God. . .We want God . . . We want God.”

 

What a great moment in modern history:

 

“We want God” chanted from the mouths

of modern men and women

living in an officially atheistic country.

 

Now, in my list of mantras that I like to pray—

I’ve added this one:

 

“I want God. . . I want God. . . I want God.”

 

Jesus’ parable of the pearl of great price begins:

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is

like a merchant searching—

Searching. . . .

for fine pearls.

 

“We want God. . . we want God. . . we want God.”

 

Last story—

another classic in spiritual direction circles.

 

Even though it was the

Spiritual Master’s day of silence—

 

a traveler begged for a word of wisdom

that would guide her through her life’s journey

and her search for God.

 

The Spiritual Master

took a sheet of paper and

wrote a single word on it:

 

“awareness”. . .

 

and kindly handed it to the visitor.

 

She was perplexed.

 

She said,

“That’s way to brief. . .

I’ve come such a long way to see you,

can you please elaborate.”

 

The Spiritual Master kindly took the paper

back and wrote:

 

“Awareness. . . .Awareness. . . Awareness”

 

“What do these words mean?”

the visitor helplessly commented.

 

The Spiritual Master

reached out and took the piece of paper

back again and wrote:

 

“Awareness. . . .Awareness . . .Awareness. . .

means

Awareness.”

 

If we are aware, God is everywhere.

 

From our great Catholic spiritual tradition—

we know to look for God in all things.

 

And we also know from our faith

That we find God especially in the Eucharist. . .

 

and in the Word of God. . .

 

and in the prayer. . . .

 

and in the poor and in the least

as Jesus teaches.

 

And we find God in each other as we

become transformed into other Jesus’s.

 

Be aware of God in all things.

 

And Jesus’ parable of the pearl of great price ends like this:

 

When that searcher for fine pearls finds

that pearl of great price

that he has spent his life searching for . . .

 

he goes and sells all that he has. . .

 

all that he has. . . and buys it!!!

This Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurates

and then invites us into

is a strange Kingdom, isn’t it?!?!?!

 

God’s kingdom operates on a unique set of principles.

 

In God’s Kingdom,

In God’s world—

many conventional moralities are irrelevant

 

Notice in the search for fine pearls—

the searcher for God—

when he found that pearl—

when he found God—

everything else became secondary.

 

The finder of the pearl of great price

wasn’t even concerned with how

he was going to support himself

after he sells all he had for the pearl.

 

He knew God would work that out.

 

You see in God’s Kingdom

“getting somewhere”—

or “being somebody”—

or “having something”—

other than an intimate relationship with God—

seems quite absurd.                  (paraphrased from David Buttrick’s Speaking Parables)

 

God is where our true hope and true joy are found.

 

The kingdom of heaven

is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.

 

When he finds a pearl of great price,

he goes and sells all that he has. . . .

and buys it.

 

Holy Spirit 07/26-27/2020