Harry Potter, The da Vinci Code, Star Wars, the adventures of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, all have a common element in their stories. They are about a quest, a search for something significant to the lives of their characters. All of them as well can be seen as representative of human life, for we all face life as a quest. And although we may not always recognize it, our quest is always much the same. We search for how we can make sense out of life. For our Catholic faith, we find direction in the mission and message of Jesus. In the Gospels, this mission and message is about the Kingdom of God.
In Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality (New York, 1999), Fr. Ron Rolheiser treats this search as a longing or a quest that is part of our humanity. As he puts it: Whatever the expression, everyone is ultimately talking about the same thing – an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness,… that lies at the center of human experience.(4)
Now that we are in the season of Ordinary Time, every Sunday responds to our quest, our search for the Kingdom of God. It is our effort to find meaning in our life that sets us on this quest. Rolheiser would describe this as our need for a spirituality. The mission of Jesus as we see in the Gospels is to reveal the Kingdom of God among us. It is this revelation in Jesus that will ultimately satisfy our life quest.
This Sunday we listen to Matthew as he recounts in his Gospel several stories or parables of the Kingdom (Matt.13:44-52). These parables focus on very ordinary images of life to express the great values of the Kingdom. Two questions help us to focus on the parables of the Kingdom:
- What do I want or seek in Life?
- What do I set my heart upon?
Matthew points out that the Kingdom is more valued than all else. It is the treasure of great value, the pearl of great price. It is so valuable that we would commit all else to attaining it, for in doing so we find the answer to the two question – this is what I seek, this is what I set my heart on. For Matthew and for us, this becomes clear when we recognize what God offers in the Kingdom: peace, harmony, justice, respect, compassion, love. All of this is in the mission and message of Jesus, for he reveals the Kingdom.
For Matthew, for the little Christian community in which he lived and for us, these are stories which express the mission and message of Jesus – the Kingdom of God is among us. It is to be lived each day in the life of each of us. To recognize the Kingdom in this way is to find the answer to the great questions to which our life quest is directed. Fr. Rolheiser would see this as developing a Christian spirituality. It is prayerful action, in the model of Jesus himself, bringing the world we touch, a spirit of openness, acceptance, compassion love and peace. Such a quest builds the Reign of God in our world.