Last week we were given three descriptions which Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God. We heard it compared to a field of wheat infiltrated by weeds sown by the enemy, we heard it compared to a mustard seed; that smallest of seeds which grows into the largest of shrubs and we heard it compared to yeast which breathes life into flour allowing it to become dough and feed many people. These parables allowed us to hear about obstacles to entering the kingdom, describing it as infinite (growing from very small to very large) and how it gives life, in this case eternal life.

This week we hear that none of this comes without a cost. The man who found the treasure and sold everything he owned and bought the field, likewise the man who found the pearl sold everything to buy the one representing the kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus, of course, paid the ultimate price. The price Jesus paid was to lower himself from the position of Creator God and to become like us and then to allow us, the created, to kill him. As humans we are made in the image of God, but we are not God. We are made of dust and we return to dust when we die. In the Gospel readings these past few weeks we have been given a vision of what we can become and where we can live if we can only follow Jesus.

Our First reading gives an indication of God’s hopes for us. Solomon was given the option of what he would like to receive from God, he could have chosen riches or power, more land, more servants, more conquests or a longer life, instead Solomon chose the wisdom to discern between good and evil which could help him to govern the people. This is an example God wants us to follow, when we ask God for anything, God wants us to have thought about what we ask of him.

So what price are we willing to pay to reach God’s kingdom? How well are we looking after what God has already given us? Are we good stewards of what we already have? 1 How do I use the time I have? Do I pray, do I carry out works of mercy, helping those in need? Or do I look to satisfy myself, gorging on box sets, or just looking out for myself? Instead of giving time to help others do I replace the giving of time with a financial donation, buying off my conscience?

How do I allocate the treasure I have? Do I see it as mine or recognise that everything belongs to God and that I am only a custodian? Do I consider my faith to be treasure? If it is treasure, do I keep it to myself or am I willingly sharing it with others? As a new grandfather, I have a responsibility to pass on my faith to the next generation.

How do I use the many talents I have been given? Do I use them for my benefit or do I use them to build up God’s kingdom?

These are questions we must all ask ourselves, me as a husband, father, grandfather and deacon; our priests as they provide spiritual and pastural care and you as our brothers and sisters need to examine how we use our God given time, treasure and talents, and discern are we using them to serve ourselves or to serve God by using them to help our neighbours. What will the cost be to us if we don’t do this?

When I attended primary school as a little boy, we used to say a prayer called the Morning Offering every day. This practice lapsed in me until Bishop Philip asked me (and my fellow candidates) to say the prayer every day at the Mass celebrating our Candidacy for the Diaconate. (The version I use has been reproduced at the end of this reflection). In that prayer we are offering everything in our day to God.

O Jesus,
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and suffering of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
in thanksgiving for your favours,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen

Within the same pages of the prayer book2 I use is a prayer attributed to St Josemaria Escriva, where we abandon to God our past, present and future, everything we value to get closer to God.

My Lord and my God:
into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future,
what is small and what is great, wha
t amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot,
things temporal and things eternal. Amen

The message in today’s Gospel is clear, to enter God’s kingdom we have to be fully invested, we need to use the time, talent and treasure which God has given us to full effect. That way when the dragnet comes at the end of time, we can hope to be among those chosen by the angels to avoid the fire in the furnace.

Please remember in your prayers

  • Those who are starting Baptism Preparation sessions this Sunday.
  • Hannah Fernandes, who will be Baptised this Sunday.

I wish you all a blessed week and pray that you can all find joy in the Peace of Christ.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 25th July 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Keith Chappell, Role of Christian Grandparents, available from https://www.ctsbooks.org/product/role-of-christian-grandparents-ebook/ accessed 25th July 2020

2 —————, Handbook of Prayers, (Catholic Truth Society, London, 2013))42-43