On Sunday, Pope Francis said that when we seek out Christ, sacrificing everything in the process, in the end we find a joy that is worth far more than anything we may have lost.
“The disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential; He is one who has found much more: he has found the fullness of joy that only the Lord can give,” the Pope said July 30. “It is the evangelical joy of healed people; of forgiven sinners; of the thief to whom is opened the door of paradise.”
Speaking about the day’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, which tells the parables of the “hidden treasure” and the “pearl of great price,” Pope Francis emphasized that “the attitude of searching is the essential condition for finding.” The treasure is the Kingdom of God, found through the person of Jesus Christ, he said. And to obtain it, our hearts must burn with the desire to seek it and find it out.
“He is the hidden treasure, he is the pearl of great value. He is the fundamental discovery, which can make a decisive turning point in our lives, filling it with meaning,” Francis said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his address before the Angelus.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus uses three different parables, or analogies, for finding the Kingdom of God, but the Pope said he wanted to “linger” over the first two examples, which “underline the decision of the protagonists to sell everything to obtain what they have discovered.”
The first case is a farmer who happens upon a hidden treasure in the field where he is working, but since he does not own the field, he first must buy it in order to possess the treasure. “So he decides to risk all his belongings in order not to miss that extraordinary opportunity,” Francis said.
In the second example a merchant finds a precious and valuable pearl. He too decides to sell everything in order to have the pearl. “These similarities highlight two characteristics concerning the possession of the Kingdom of God,” the Pope continued, “searching and sacrifice.” Highlighting the action, rather than passivity, involved in reaching heaven, he said it is true, “the Kingdom of God is offered to all — it is a gift, a favor, a grace — but it is not made available on a silver plate, it requires dynamism: it is to seek, to walk, to do.” When they discover the treasure and the precious pearl, both the farmer and the merchant sell everything they own, he pointed out.
“Evaluating the invaluable treasure value leads to a decision that also involves sacrifice, detachment and renunciation.” The decision of the disciple to sacrifice everything for their relationship with Christ is not a matter of “despising” everything, but of putting things in the proper order, he said, placing Jesus before everything. And doing so, leads to the joy of the Gospel, which fills the hearts and lives of those who have found Jesus.
“Those who are saved by Him are freed from sin, sadness, inner void, and isolation,” he said. “With Jesus Christ, the joy is always born and reborn.”
Today’s Gospel urges us to contemplate the joy of the farmer and the merchant in the parable, a joy that is for each of us to discover in the “consoling presence of Jesus in our lives.” And this presence, Pope Francis said, is one that transforms our hearts, opening us up to the needs of our brothers and sisters, in particular those that are weaker than us.
“Let us pray, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for each of us to witness, with daily words and gestures, the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God, that is, the love the Father has given us through Jesus,” he concluded.
After praying the Angelus, Francis noted that today we remember the World Day against human trafficking, leading those present in a ‘Hail Mary’ for the victims of trafficking and for the conversion of the hearts of traffickers, calling the modern form of slavery “an aberrant plague.” “Each year, thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing,” he said. “This is ugly, it's cruel, it's criminal!”