The Priceless Treasure

The last few years have been both an exciting and enlightening experience for me. In the corporate world, life is always tough and challenging as each new year we’re expected to deliver results that become tighter and tighter each time. We have to be more discerning in our priorities at work, and as well as our family and personal lives. While there is no let-up in our personal goals in raising the intensity of our attention and dedication in our chosen careers, we also become aware that age is catching up and that there should be a much better attitude in coping up with the challenges thrown to us each day. We have to be more prudent in ensuring that we don’t lose sight of our final destination and still make the workplace both successful and pleasant at the same time. Remarkably, with age comes wisdom and the realization that there are better ways of doing things, and there are better ways of handling relationships.

The “treasures” which we have chased in our youth are slowly fading in value and the more priceless ones suddenly become more visible and clearer. We are slowly led into the realization that there’s more to life than flashy gadgets, fast cars and plush homes. But this doesn’t come easy, as this isn’t obvious to others deprived of the gift of faith and discernment. It is not for everyone; it is only for those who strive to win the struggle between good and evil every minute, every hour, every day.

In the Gospel, the Lord Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a “treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, 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.” (Mt. 13: 44 – 46)

The challenge then is the search,

Where do we look in the first place? How do we find it?

When we become more faithful to Christ, we start to see things we had with no idea that they were around. We find greater treasures. These are glimpses of Heaven, of course. We long for it; we want to experience it. Nothing comes close yet not even pain and suffering can stop us from pursuing it. As much as we can imagine, what we experience does not even come close to a fraction of what Heaven really is. We simply can’t fathom it as it is out of our field of vision.

As we struggle and discern God’s will for our life, as we seek to know what is good and true, the wonder and awe of His providence is always beyond human understanding. Yet, this is also God’s presence — Emmanuel — in our earthly life. If we are prayerful and faithful, with the purity of heart and intent of seeking to know God more, we will be nurtured with Heavenly wisdom to allow us to grow and mature. We need the eyes of faith more than ever in order to know and identify these treasures normally hidden from our earthly view for us to see the pearl of great price that the Lord is talking about. A treasure whose value is beyond all that we can ever imagine. If we realize it, gaining wisdom is geared towards making the brightness of our souls become more like Christ. It is simply nurtured growth, a deepening of the faith to a wisdom beyond all understanding.

As we trek daily towards maturity, may the Father grant us the wisdom and grace to see more clearly the pearl of great price with the eyes of faith; that which is truly valuable, truly priceless and truly authentic.

“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; for you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.” (Mt. 11: 25)

Growing into Good, Bountiful Harvest

The Gospel reveals that the enemy is always in perpetual plot against the Good of this Earth. In the Parable, these are portrayed as the weeds, whose vicious nature choke the good plants. Uprooting these vicious characters too early may bring more harm than good. These have to be timed well, so that the harvest will be bountiful.

Our Lord tells us about the mustard seed, which despite being small, grew into a big tree, that even birds become attracted to it. In similar fashion we are being encouraged to grow towards fullness of life in Christ.

Leaven (like yeast) is used by the Lord in another parable as a symbol of the awesome power of God. When left to itself, dough remains just what it is — dough. But when leaven is added to it, a transformation takes place which produces rich & fine bread when heated.

The Kingdom of God offers transformation when we receive Jesus in our hearts. When we yield to Christ, our lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

At the early stage of reason, good and evil are sown in our hearts like small seeds which grow, and yield a harvest of either good or bad fruit — depending on what we nurture within us. Those who sow goodness will shine and reap the fullness of the Father’s Grace in the Kingdom of Heaven. Their light will be awesomely brilliant and will radiate with joy, beauty and fullness of love.

“Lord God, nurture the good seeds in my heart, aid me to resist the evil one, and may the Holy Spirit dwell in me forever, so that I will be transformed into the fullness of Your Love and Grace. Amen.”

Making The Soil Fertile

The Parable of the Sower is one of those Gospel readings that Christians are taught early on. Aside from its vivid message, the reading evokes distinct images, so much so the teaching can’t be lost to the reader — or so it seems.
Thus the question, why do people choose to be rocks, rather than fertile soil?
As I was reflecting on this, my schedule actually brought me to China, where aside from the usual tourist destinations, our colleague there brought me to a Catholic Church, whose structure reminds me of a typical Spanish-style architecture in provincial Philippines. The walls are essentially made of limestone thus, the charm brings you back to a place quite unlike China.

As we made our way through the courtyard, a model in bridal dress was posing for the lens. She is pretty, and she enjoyed the stone backdrop. Inside the Church, a speaker was doing something like a Christian Life Program or so I thought. Looking at him and the participants made me feel happy! Something like this in China should be good!

And so when I went out of the Holy Ground I whispered a prayer: May the seeds sown by the speaker fall into fertile soil so that more souls are converted for the Lord, and make Him known more in a beautiful and yet still distant-to-Christianity-country called China. May we do our share in helping these souls so that their growth will be nurtured towards maturity in the Faith.

“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.” (Lk. 8: 8)

In Humility & In Faith

The Lord is telling us to become more trusting to Him and His promises. Most of us complain that as we get more assignments at work, our lives become more complicated and schedules become more tight. We become more stressed, experience more challenges and are rarely relaxed at home. We refuse to heed His invitation to get engaged in the elements of our Faith. We refuse to acknowledge the difficulty even if family life suffers. Most of us still project strength and thought we have it all figured out. We remain proud and don’t listen whenever advice is offered, even when things are on the brink of turning upside down. As if we can control everything on our own. We don’t realize how foolish, arrogant and even dangerous this attitude is. Short of saying we can even control nature itself!

Jesus projected strength and power close if not equal to that of the Heavenly Father (Mt. 11: 27).
Yet despite this majesty and power, He says “I am meek and humble of heart.” (v. 29) Two very different mindsets, that only Jesus can do. While the Lord could always distant himself from us, He offers hope and gave us the perfect model of humility. He has set the example, and He is encouraging us to do the same. This is not for Him, but is actually for our own benefit. Thinking that we can do it all by our own selves can result in our being overburdened; contrast it with those who work with Jesus, for whom the burden becomes light.

Thus, the Lord is asking a very personal question – can I accept being so close to Jesus that I surrender to Him, walk in pace with Him, and aligning every move with Him?

Let us pray, that we may strive to be humble and meek; just like Jesus who showed us the way.

“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.” (Mt. 11: 25)

God First

There are many times in our lives that we have to make hard choices, whether about our family, friends, work, and future plans. Life will never be always easy and uneventful as we have to face and carry our crosses in some forms. Every single day we are confronted with choices and the Lord is exhorting us to remain steadfast and faithful to Him. While following Jesus and doing good for others we are assured that He knows about it; even the simple act of sharing and giving someone food or clothing or money. For making the tough choices and for sharing His love to others, God will reward us for our faithfulness to Him. This He’ll surely fulfill even if what we do are small and seemingly insignificant acts. Everything matters to Him so we shouldn’t let any opportunity pass away.

But is it really that easy? Considering that Jesus isn’t one person we see every day, like our family, our friends, does it really make sense?

This question is important because if we’ve noticed it, when we’re centered on somebody or something else, more often than not our lives were also in disarray. Many years back when I was a young adult learning to find myself in the world, life seemed to be both a maze and a mess. Situations which I don’t understand just pop up and it seemed then that there wasn’t a connection to what I’ve always wanted to achieve. Life and what’s happening around just didn’t make sense. Yet, Jesus found a way (He always does!) to talk and make me understand what life is all about. I’ve realized that ever since there is one constant — Jesus — who’s always there to “cure” or correct the knots we’ve created out of our failings and shortcomings. Every time we’re in a bad situation we always call on Mama Mary and Jesus always gets us out.

Yes, God is and will always be there. Always. We have to put Him at the center if we want to make our lives more meaningful. After the previous Sunday’s message telling us not to be afraid, the Lord is telling us this time to make Him the center of everything.

Put. God. First.

If we want to have better marriages, better families and better careers – we need to put God first as the center of our lives. Building a truly loving relationship with Christ – first – will only make all the other aspects of our life better. This means creating a relationship and learning how to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Loving God will help us understand fully how it is to love – a love that will help us to forgive those who we think don’t even deserve forgiveness. It will help us to love those whom we don’t think we can love. We have to make a conscious effort to see Jesus in everyone we encounter, every day. When we put God first, it means looking for Jesus in everyone, which means we are in reality putting Him before anything, and finding God in everything. And in the process, we are loving those around us (our families, friends) even more fully than we had.

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Pt. 2: 9)