Treasure of the heart

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. -

The young Solomon succeeded his father as king. The Lord God thus asked him in a dream one night: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” A typical king would have asked for power, riches, and victory over his enemies. Instead, Solomon asked the Lord: “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” The Lord answered in return: “Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right —  I do so as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.” (From today’s First Reading, 1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12).

An understanding heart. We cannot but go back to the person of Christ, arrested and brought to the house of the high priest. What followed soon after was the triple denial of Peter, supposedly his leading apostle. Peter was with the crowd outside, watching the arrested Jesus through the window. For the third time, Peter denied that he was a disciple of Christ. It was then that Jesus turned and looked at Peter. It was not a look of judgement or condemnation. It was the look of an understanding heart, a look of unconditional love. It was this that struck the heart of Peter and he wept bitterly. Tears of repentance. Tears of love in return —  for which he dedicated the rest of his life in the service of the Lord.

This very same understanding heart and unconditional love is what we experience when we let Christ enter our own hearts. A heart-to-heart experience. The reign of God within us. The late Fr. Anthony de Mello, S. J., expressed this in such a moving way that I cannot but quote him here:

“I had a fairly good relationship with the Lord. I would ask him for things, converse with him, praise him, thank him . . . But always I had this uncomfortable feeling that he wanted me to look into his eyes . . . And I would not. I would talk, but look away when I sensed he was looking at me. I always looked away. And I knew why. I was afraid. I thought I should find an accusation there of some unrepented sin. I thought I should find a demand there: there would be something he wanted from me.

One day I finally summoned up courage and looked! There was no accusation. There was no demand. The eyes just said, ‘I love you.’ I looked long into those eyes. I looked searchingly. Still, the only message was, ‘I love you.’

And I walked out and, like Peter, I wept.”

This is the treasure, the pearl of great price that we read about in today’s Gospel reading (Mt. 13: 44-52). Nothing, absolutely nothing can ever take the place of this presence of God within us, the reign of God in our hearts. And as we feel, relish, and reverence this reign of God’s love within us, we cannot but respond in kind — toward God, and toward everyone else that he loves. All of us humans are thus interconnected with one another — from all cultures, races, religions, the educated and uneducated, rich and poor.

This is the very opposite of what the Godless world out there is trapping us into: Western Individualism. The I-Me-Mine culture. The Western idea of self-fulfilment has deteriorated into independence and self-sufficiency as the misleading sources of happiness and freedom. On the macro level, the economic and political effects of these on poor countries are inhuman and socially unjust. On the micro level, especially in man-woman relationships, this Western pattern has deteriorated to free sex and irresponsible pregnancy, as celebrated in that very popular movie, “Mamma Mia.” There are even couples who live together with the condition that they will not have any children, because children are a nuisance to their careers. Such lifestyle is labeled as conjugalism. No wonder, more and more churches in Europe, North America, and Australia are empty.

Let us keep holding on to that treasure buried within us, that pearl of great price, as our most priceless “possession.” No amount of money, power, or material possessions can ever take the place of this love of God within each one of us. But we have to be continually aware of this, and be continually responding to it, anywhere we are, everywhere we are, whatever we are doing, with whomever we are. Each one of us is called to be another Solomon, or better still, another Christ. An “Alter Christus.”







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