Sell everything

Published on 24 Jul 2020

By turning everything to their good, God cooperates with those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose [1].  

Our trust that the providence of God will ensure that everything will work out well in the end is linked to our deep desire to love God.   Let your love come to me and I shall live [2]. Our hope that all will turn out for the good is part of our devotion to God.  He has loved us: we long to love him back. He has created us and holds us in being.  We would like our response to what happens to us, even the most the difficult things, to be a God-centred one.   Our friendship with our creator is the most valuable thing we possess.  Everything else could be taken away, but, if we retain our attachment to God, all will be well. 

Among our losses are the things, which are taken away from us, and also the things, which we sacrifice.  We are ready to give up everything for God.  Even if we are not quite sure that we would be able to live out such a renunciation, our faith requires of us such willingness. He goes off happy sells everything he owns and buys the field  [3].  We are the happy person who has discovered what is really valuable.  The law from your mouth means more to me than silver and gold [4].  The kingdom of God, which is divine love in our heart, is so important to us that we would do anything necessary to secure it.  The providence, which brings about good outcomes, operates within such generous, even extravagant, self-sacrifice.  Thus Christ has taught us.

Whereas everything else will one day be taken away from us, the loving tie to our creator, which has been established in us, is imperishable. His purpose is that we should be happy with him forever.  That heaven is our destiny affects how we think and feel about every other loss and gain, which we experience.  Grant that we use the good things, which pass, in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that endure [5]. To trust in God is to have confidence in what he has shown us about what is valuable, good and true.  To live trustingly under God’s providence is to be wise. I love your commands more than finest gold [6].

Solomon staked everything on wisdom.  Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil [7].   If he could only trust God, a young and inexperienced king would be wise enough to rule well.   We who live under the wise rule of Jesus are being taught to secure the kingdom of heaven by giving up everything else. You have not asked for long life for yourself or riches [8]. What might seem an extravagant or even foolish sacrifice turns out to be the best thing we could possibly do. Such a ‘venture for Christ [9] is truly to be understood as wisdom not recklessness.  The treasure hidden in the field really is valuable.  The pearl of great price deserves the high estimate of its worth, which the merchant calculates.  The fishermen sorting their catch are selecting not haphazardly but on the basis of a genuine acumen.   Likewise our trust in God is well founded.  We have studied his care for us and we have found it reliable.  Your will is wonderful indeed, therefore I obey it [10].

The field in which the treasure is concealed is our life of discipleship.  When we follow Christ something wonderful is uncovered for us.  He is a sower of a good seed.  He places in the earth that which will help us.  Another way of putting the matter would be to say that the Lord himself is the field.  Our life of service of him is lived in him.  We discover the treasure in the knowledge of him, which he confers on us.  To be a disciple of and in Jesus is to live shaped by divine providence.  Trusting in him, we learn his way of giving himself for others.  All our gifts, joys and renunciations find their place in the plan of God who turns everything to the good of those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose [11].

To devote our life to Jesus Christ is wise.  The unfolding of your word gives light [12].  Yet others will judge it foolish and sometimes we ourselves will wonder if we are doing the right thing.  Perhaps even Solomon with all his wisdom could not have judged that the king who reigned from the cross was wiser even than he.  It is not always obvious, even to the wise, that the greatest folly of the true king, the foolishness of Calvary, is a wisdom most trustworthy.

Despite the imagery in the parables of valuation and measurement, perhaps we had better not gauge or calculate how much we are trusting God.  Having definitively joined ourselves to Christ, we had better trust that we trust enough.  There are other successes and failures to calibrate.  Our calculation is not now about whether we have enough resources to buy the field in which lies the treasure or to purchase the pearl of great price.  Rather, having acquired these valuable things, in some cases quite a long time ago, we must now work out what to do with them.  God has made us wise enough to solve this puzzle. Ask what you would like me to give you[13].  We are living in Jesus who is an abundant field in which we are finding the treasures of his truth.  The field gives up its treasure.  From the Lord who gives himself up for us we learn the wisdom of self-offering.

As disciples of Christ, we are searchers and finders.  We continue to look for the one to whom we have already attached ourselves.  Chosen especially long ago we are intended to become true images of the Son of God [14]. We seek the truth in a field, which we already possess. He hides it again [15].  Our business now is to re-discover what we glimpsed before, Things both new and old [16].  Something presently out of sight is about to be re-acquired. To make good use of something, which has been buried away, we are now ready. I give you a heart wise and shrewd [17].  We must search and dig and find again.  We know that our hunt will be successful but there is some arduous sifting to be done.  The angels will appear and will separate the wicked from the just [18].  We trust in providence.  The Lord enables us also to have confidence in the treasure, which he has entrusted to us.  We are being enabled to respond to God’s love as he wishes that we should: from the abundance of your gifts, and through the powerful working of your grace...sanctify our present way of life and lead us to eternal gladness [19].  The bridge between our present life and the joy of heaven is a providential love, which accommodates all the good that emerges from what happens and what is chosen within the wisdom of God. He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified; and with those he justified he shared his glory [20].

Blog by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              Romans 8.28

[2]              Psalm (119) 118.76

[3]              Matthew 13.44

[4]              Psalm (119) 118.72

[5]              Roman Missal, Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Collect

[6]              Psalm (119) 118.127

[7]              1 Kings 3.9

[8]              1 Kings 3.11

[9]              Saint John Henry Newman Parochial and Plain Sermons volume 4, sermon 20

[10]            Psalm (119) 118.129

[11]            Romans 8.28

[12]            Psalm (119) 118.130

[13]            1 Kings 3.5

[14]            Romans 8.29

[15]            Matthew 13.44

[16]            Matthew 13.52

[17]            1 Kings 3.12

[18]            Matthew 13.49

[19]            Roman Missal, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, prayer over the offerings

[20]            Romans 8.30