017-07-31 L’Osservatore Romano
Dear brothers and sisters,
The parable discourse of Jesus which groups seven parables in the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel concludes with today’s three similar stories: the hidden treasure (v 44), the fine pearl (45-46) and the fishing net (v. 47-48). I will pause on the first two [parables] which highlight the protagonists’ decision to sell everything in order to obtain what they found. The first case has to do with a farmer who casually runs into a hidden treasure in the field he is working. As the field is not his property, he must purchase it in order to take possession of the treasure: he therefore decides to risk all his possessions so as not to lose that truly exceptional opportunity. In the second case, we find a merchant of precious pearls; as an expert, he has spotted a pearl of great value. He too decides to wager everything on that pearl, to such an extent, as to sell all his other ones.
These similar [stories] highlight two characteristics regarding possession of the Kingdom of God: the search and sacrifice. It is true that the Kingdom of God is offered to all — it is a gift, it is a present, it is a grace — but it is not available on a silver platter: it requires dynamism: it is about searching, trying to walk, working hard. The attitude of searching is the essential condition for finding. The heart must burn with the desire to reach the precious good, that is, the Kingdom of God which is made present in the person of Jesus. He is the hidden treasure; he is the pearl of great value. He is the fundamental discovery who can make a decisive change in our lives, filling it with meaning.
Faced with the unexpected search, both the farmer and the merchant realize that they are before a unique opportunity which should not be missed, hence, they sell all they own. The evaluation of the inestimable value of the treasure brings to a decision that also implies sacrifice, detachment and surrender. When the treasure and the pearl are discovered. that is, when we have found the Lord, it is necessary not to let this discovery become sterile, but rather to sacrifice every other thing to it. It is not a question of disliking everything else but to place it subordinately to Jesus, putting him in first place; Grace in first place. The disciple of Christ is not someone who has deprived himself of something that is essential; he is someone who has found much more: he has found the complete joy that only the Lord can give. It is the evangelical joy of the sick who have healed; of the pardoned sinners, of the thief for whom the doors of heaven open.
The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the entire life of those who encounter Jesus. Those who allow themselves to be saved by Him are freed from sin, sadness, inner emptiness and isolation. With Jesus Christ, joy is always born and reborn (cf. Apo. Exhort Evangelii gaudium, 1). Today we are called to contemplate the joy of the farmer and the merchant in the parables. It is the joy of each of us when we discover the closeness and the comforting presence of Jesus in our lives. A presence which transforms the heart and opens us to the needs and the welcome of our brothers, especially the weaker ones.
Let us pray for the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that each of us can know how to bear witness, in daily words and gestures to the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God, that is, the love that the Father has given us through Jesus.
After the Angelus,
Dear brothers and sisters, today is World Day against the trafficking of persons, promoted by the United Nations. Each year thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of work and sexual exploitation and of organ trafficking and it seems that we have become so accustomed to this, as to consider it a normal thing. This is ugly, it is cruel, it is criminal! I wish to call on the commitment of all so that this perverse plague, a form of modern slavery, may be adequately contrasted. Let us pray together to the Virgin Mary so that she may support the victims of trafficking. Let us pray together to Our Lady: Hail Mary….
I now extend a greeting to all the pilgrims from Italy and from various countries, in particular the Murialdine Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Novices of Mary Help of Christians, altar servers from various Italian parishes and the Italian Hockey Club Femenino from Buenos Aires.
I wish you all a Happy Sunday and please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good Lunch and Arrivederci!