Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Selling ourselves

In the gospel today we have a repeat from Sunday, the two parables: the man who sells all he has to buy the field and the man who sells all he has to buy the pearl of great price.

Why two stories of men doing the same thing? They aren't doing the same thing. While we translate both as "sell", St. Matthew uses two different words. The first man for the field, "trades" or "barters." The second man "disposes of", the verb can even be used to refer to selling someone into slavery— a much more radical idea.

Most people think a priest is a priest. But in the church there are important differences. I am a diocesan priest. We do not take vows, despite what people think, we make promises. I promised to live a celibate life, respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors, and to pray for the Church.

Men and women who are members of religious institutes take vows. Instead of constantly saying members of religious institutes we call them simply "religious" for short. You may also hear terms like monk, brother, sister, nun, mother, etc. Without going into all the distinctions, what they all have in common is what we term the "total donation of self." Like the man for the pearl of great price they give their entire self. They do this through three vows:

Poverty- their property
Chastity-their most intimate self
Obedience -their self determination.

As much as we diocesan clergy hate to admit it, the Church still see this as a higher calling. And we should each day pray for men and women to have the courage to say yes to the unique vocation of the religious, in all of the various communities of religious (Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican, etc.).

As for the rest of us, while we have not taken the vows of the religious, we are called in our daily lives to constantly hand ourselves over to God. To trade our will for his. To be his servants.
While we own our possessions, we should always see ourselves as caretakers. And even the love of husband and wife should be chaste, directly always to one and only one other, their spouse.

It requires daily sacrifice, but if we believe the kingdom is truly a treasure with a value beyond measure, then it is a simple choice.