A young man in his mid-twenties, from a well-to-do family, was strolling one day when he met a deformed leper. At first he would have felt an unholy revulsion towards the leper but something in him insisted that he would not only give alms to the leper but also to touch him. This he did, and he did even more, he kissed the leper. That experience changed his life radically. He started to help the poor and the sick from the money of the family of course, which angered his father so much that he was unmercifully beaten, locked up, and even stripped off of his inheritance. His father also demanded that he would pay back the money he spent in buying the goods to help the poor and the sick. But this experience of being disowned by his own father did not change his mind, in fact, it strengthened it all the more. He even stripped off the clothes that he was wearing and gave them back to his father saying, “The clothes I wear are also his. I’ll give them back. From now on, I no longer have father on earth. I only have my Father in heaven.”
This man is no other than St Francis of Assisi. He found the real treasure that no amount of wealth in this world can give him. He found God in two things that characterize his Order henceforth: poverty and humility. He found the treasure of the Kingdom that he went out and gave up everything he had just to purchase and to acquire that heavenly treasure.
Friends, in our Gospel today Jesus again speaks in parables, and again about the Kingdom of God. Here he speaks of three things. First is that the Kingdom of God has a priceless value that no amount of earthly wealth, treasure, possessions can buy. Second is that we are to seek for this Kingdom with willingness and openness of heart. And third is that the Kingdom of God is already here and now, in us, among us… And we can have a glimpse of this kingdom of God in the Church which is the icon, the sacrament of the Kingdom.
Yes, we may find it distressing or distasteful at times that the Church does not only welcome the saints, but also the sinners. If there is a church that welcomes only ‘the saints’ we have to think twice about going there, since Jesus did not establish the Church only for the saints, but for the sinners who are journeying to become saints.
I’ve spoken last week in my homily, that each one of us is given a ‘seed’ of the kingdom. Today, have we looked at this seed? Have we found this seed? If we do, then are we willing to give up everything, just to make this kingdom alive and real in us?
But how can we seek the Kingdom of God in our world today, when at a touch of a button we can get most of the things if not all that we imagine we need or want? How can we see the kingdom of God as the realization of all our ideals and aspirations, when we feel we already that on our own, we can reach our ideals and aspirations?
Friends, like St Francis, we have to realise that the characteristic of the kingdom of God is not ‘hoarding’ or ‘possessing’ the things that we think we need, or realising our dreams and ambitions. NO. Our first Reading today reminds us this. As Christians we believe that God invites us all to his Kingdom. He has the masterplan, the blueprint of the Kingdom. So what we can do is to be at the same mind with God. To be at the same mind with God means that we would ask him to give us the ‘wisdom’ to see what is true, proper and right. It means that we have to ask God to give us wisdom to understand how to discern between good and evil, between right and wrong, between truth and lie, between life and death. In doing these we are cooperating in God’s work of establishing his kingdom and making us ‘images’ of his Son as St Paul tells us today in the Second Reading.
So as we continue our reflection today, like Solomon let’s pray that God would give us wisdom to enable us to seek the Kingdom of God in the world today, to discern between the things in the world that are beneficial from those that are destructive to the Kingdom of God. And like St Francis, let’s be humble and be poor in Spirit, in such a way we can be assured that we can find the Kingdom of God and that everything else [we aspire] will be added unto us.