Rev Kathy Christianson, Deacon
As a result of my formal religious education as a young person, I used to believe that God lived up there (pointing finger upward). I envisioned this large man sitting on a big thrown which rested on a lot of clouds – big, fluffy clouds. When he spoke, it was in this loud, deep voice. When he spoke, it was to inform me what I did right and what I did wrong. But I must have been doing good because I was with HIM! There was a whole bunch of angels – some flying and some sitting near God. I envisioned that there was music continuously playing. It was a warm place, filled with love and free of any type of frustration or hate. And this was God’s kingdom. It was called heaven.
On this wonderful spiritual journey I am on, I have come to believe that God is not far away, way up in the clouds – separate from me, watching me, judging me. I began to believe and trust that God lives here (pointing to self) – part of my soul, part of my Spirit. So, not only was I not separate from God, I wasn’t separate from each of you, or the stranger on the street or my friend in California. I began to understand that the kingdom of God resides with each of us. When I began to understand that all of us were truly made in the image and likeness of God, well then it only made sense that we all had to be connected because this one God was in all of us. I believe God lives here (pointing to self). God is not separate. God is not at a distance. God is right here. We all live in God’s kingdom.
There is a statement in our liturgy, during the consecration of the water and wine where we ask God to help us “manifest the divinity of our humanity as does Jesus”. In other words, may we recognize and act on that which God asks of us – to trust that He is with us – always. God loves us and will take care of us. There is divinity in this kingdom within us. And Jesus showed us how to love God, to love ourselves and to love one another.
In today’s Gospel, the first parable (Jesus loved to speak in parables) says that “the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field which someone found and hid; then in his (or her) joy he goes and sells all the he has and buys that field.” I would like to offer that the field that Jesus is referring to is us. That we have a treasure within us that remains hidden, unknown to us until we come to believe in the “divinity of our humanity”. Then in the joy of realizing that God was never really far away, God resided in us the whole time, we know we have the power to be divine, to be that close to God, that we give up all old beliefs and our old ways that separated us from God and we buy into the fact that the kingdom of God is ours for the asking when we act out the “divinity of our humanity”.
It is the same thing with the merchant in the second parable who searches for the finest pearls. But in finding just one pearl of great value, the merchant realizes what he has and he sells everything to acquire it and keep it. I hear the message again, that we can have and live in the kingdom of heaven right here, right now, if we don’t put great emphasis on our material possessions, or money or status or power and just pay constant attention to God who lives in each of us.
In the third parable, I believe that the message is that we have to look inside of ourselves and work hard to see ourselves as God sees us – as images of Himself in all his goodness and greatness. We should look within ourselves and distinguish the “bad fish” from the “good fish”. In other words, start changing those aspects of ourselves that are not God-like and capitalize on our good qualities to bring joy to ourselves and others.
In the final passage in this gospel Jesus says, “Therefore every scribe who has trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” I feel that Jesus was saying that we all have the ability and the choice to tap into this kingdom of heaven which resides in each of us. Our own kingdoms consist of the wisdom that we have accumulated over the years as our hearts grow in love, understanding and compassion. We are also given the opportunity to gain new insights, new awareness’s of how we can be closer to God.
As Jean spoke the words of God in her homily last week, our lives will be joyful and fulfilling if we just remember that God is with us – always. You are never alone in this journey for God and the kingdom of heaven is with you always. He is but a heartbeat away.