SPANISH VERSION »
HOW TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 17th Sunday of the Year, July 27, 2014
1 Kings 3:5-13, Ps. 118, Rom. 8:28-20, Matt. 13:44-52
Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matt. 13:44).
Here we see a whole radical, new way of living in this world. It is the way of life of the kingdom of God. In the kingdom one lives only for God. One cannot enter into the kingdom except by first leaving everything else. This is the entrance ticket into the kingdom of God on earth, the kingdom of peace that Jesus inaugurated in this world. Once saved by faith, we enter into the kingdom of God on earth by a life of renunciation. This is the way of sanctification. One enters by renouncing all to live only for Jesus Christ with all the love of his heart. One renounces the unnecessary pleasures of life to seek and find all his delight henceforth in the Lord and in his service.
Jesus explains that the kingdom of God is like a man who discovers a treasure hidden in a field. He wants to obtain it, but he can only do so by buying the field. To get enough money to buy the field he has to sell everything he has, and he does so joyfully, knowing that by leaving everything he will obtain a treasure worth far more than all he is leaving.
So it is with the kingdom of God. To enter into it we first have to leave, sell, and renounce all that we have. This is the only way we can enter now into the kingdom of God on earth, this kingdom of peace in our heart, this way of sanctification. This means that we have to completely change our lifestyle to live henceforth only for God in all that we do. So we will live no more for ourselves and our own pleasures, but only for him. This call is for everyone, and the more radically we can follow it, the better.
We therefore begin to live a new kind of life in this world, a simple life. We joyfully embrace evangelical poverty, knowing that in this way we will have treasure in heaven, and on earth too, a treasure of the spirit, the treasure of the love of God, and the treasure of his peace in our heart. So will it be, for henceforth we will have only one treasure, Christ. He will be our treasure if we sell all for him, if we radically change our lifestyle for him. One way of doing this is to use what money we have no longer for ourselves and our own pleasures but for the work of preaching the gospel of God's salvation in Jesus Christ, or for some other ministry.
So we renounce worldly delights, the unnecessary pleasures of the world and of food. We eat only basic, healthy, simple food, renouncing delicacies, sumptuous, and succulent food, because we do not want this to divide our heart from an undivided love for the Lord alone in every aspect of our life. Henceforth we will live only for Christ with all the love of our heart, denying ourselves delight in other unnecessary things.
This is how the apostles lived. St. Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" (Matt. 19:27 NKJV). Jesus answered him that he will receive the hundredfold reward for leaving all for him, for "everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold" (Matt. 19:29 NKJV).
St. Paul also left all for Christ. He left his whole former life and all his achievements in Judaism to follow Christ, saying, "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:7-8).
In the kingdom of God we now live for Christ alone, leaving all else for him to love him alone with all our heart, and our neighbor for his sake (Mark 12:30-31). St. Paul describes this new way of living like this: Christ "died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:15).
So we live now and henceforth only for him. We are to leave all else for him, because it is impossible to serve both him and also the riches and pleasures of the world. We can only serve Christ, and Christ alone, not also the other delights of the world, for "no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). That is, we cannot serve both God and the riches and pleasures of the world. We must make a decision which of these we will serve. So it is, because wealth and worldly pleasures divide our heart and make us forget God.
To gain the treasure of the kingdom of God we must first divest ourselves of all other treasures and live very simply, or use our wealth only in the Lord's service, to preach the gospel or to perform some other ministry or work of mercy. We are not to pile up treasures on earth for our own enjoyment and pleasure. Thus did Jesus teach us: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven ... For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:19-21).
Jesus said, "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20). Blessed are those who renounce a life of luxury and worldly pleasure, and choose a simple life for the love of Christ. Theirs is the kingdom of God. And to the rich he said, "But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24). They have already had their consolation in a luxurious life, in the delights and pleasures of the world, rather than in God. Indeed it will be hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, for he is surrounded by worldly pleasures that divide his heart. And this is what Jesus taught us: "Truly, I say to you it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:23-24).
So it is better to choose the narrow way of life that few choose than the wide and comfortable way of destruction that many choose (Matt. 7:13-14). It is better to lose our life in this world, renouncing all for Christ, than to save our life in this world, enjoying the pleasures of life, and lose it with God by dividing our heart with these pleasures (Mark 8:35). It is better to live a life of sacrifice for the love of Christ and enter into the kingdom of God on earth than to guard our life in this world, enjoying its pleasures, and remain outside of the kingdom of God. "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
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