Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Commentary for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom, OSB

The Sunday gospel is filled with familiar images… some of us have even used these images to capture significant moments in our monastic journey.

There is an underlying theme in these 3 parables… that of seeking and finding, of searching and discovering, of unearthing and discerning.

In the first parable, the treasure in the field is not actively sought… the person seems to stumble upon it. We don’t know if the field was being prepared for planting, if it was being harvested, or if, in fact, it was just a nice grassy field that this person was strolling through. Something must have caught the person’s attention, however… and curiosity was rewarded with the discovery of a treasure! Without banks or safes, the surest way to protect a treasure was to bury it. The one who unearthed the treasure buys the field, granting him ownership of the treasure as well.

The merchant’s job is to hunt for precious gems. He has the experience and expertise to recognize a valuable stone. In selling everything to purchase the magnificent pearl, the merchant lets go of the fruits of his livelihood. He becomes poor so that he may be enriched by the pearl he has discovered.

In the third parable, the fisherfolk likely sailed to a spot where they judged the fish to be numerous. Like the merchant, they know their trade and are deliberate in their quest to return home with a good catch. Their knowledge of fish, along with the dietary laws by which they live, help them sort out their catch.

Faith, building the Kingdom, as reflected in these stories, involves risk and commitment of one’s energies and resources. Actually, it is not the OBJECT that matters, but the process of seeking, finding and choosing. Each person in these parables, and each person in this chapel makes an ultimate life choice that reveals and defines their character and gives their life a sense of purpose. We each chose this life… a big yes which has been followed by thousands of smaller yeses. How do we keep actively engaged with this treasure, with the Kingdom of God? How do we hold it reverently without putting it away on a shelf to be admired or guarded?

Jesus asks his listeners if they understand these parables, and they naively reply yes, unaware of the depths yet to be revealed and explored. Jesus urges them, then, to bring forth from their storehouse both the old and the new. We are challenged to do the same.

We have just finished first profession, jubilee and chapter. We have unearthed pearls. We have been challenged to let go of some things, embrace others and commit ourselves to the journey. We have again recognized the treasure of THIS community, at THIS time, with all our giftedness and limitations.

Benedict urges us to listen with the ear of our hearts. Our parables today call us to SEE with the eyes of our heart, to recognize the Kingdom within and around us. They remind us that the Kingdom comes in both the ordinary and extraordinary moments of our lives.

The one who finds the treasure in the field goes OUT OF JOY and sells all. Let us embrace our monastic lives and our call as followers of Christ with that same sense of joy. Let us be people who seek and find the Kingdom in the very fiber of our existence and use our energy and talents to make that Kingdom a reality in our world.

Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Susan Marie,
I really enjoy your commentaries on mass! I really feel like I am in church! thanks! Keep'em comin'