What Life is All About and Why We Miss It
#WhatLifeIsAllAbout is the podcast for July 30, 2017. Life is about more than love and riches. We sometimes find it when we are looking and other times when we are not. In this case the Romantic Comedy “Sweet Home Alabama” and treasure and a field are related. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Matthew13 #Treasure #SweetHomeAlabama #ReisWitherspoon #Pearl #Find #Found #Baptism #Centering #Purpose #Meaning #Renewal #Mission
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For the Church of St. Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/30/2017 The 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 13:44-52.
Melanie Smooter moved to New York City. She started a fashion business under a new name. It is thriving. She is caught up in the fashion industry and all its success. She meets a man she wants to marry, thinking they will live happily ever after. She finds out there is a problem, she is still married to her high school sweetheart back in Alabama. He never signed the divorce papers she kept sending to him.
To make things right, she goes back to Alabama. She encounters her good looking high school sweetheart who has made it big in selling glass products. She discovers that he is really the one she needs to be with. Their life together will make everything right. She will have the consciousness of life, be able to handle all things, etc., because she has the right man. Yet, to have the right man, she has to give up what she thought was the perfect fiancée, perfect life, perfect marriage.
For those of you who do not know, I have just told you the plot to the romantic comedy movie, “Sweet Home Alabama.” The reason I picked it over, say, “Pretty Woman,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The Notebook,” or any number of other RomCom’s with similar formulas is because “Sweet Home Alabama” has a bit of sacrifice in it that the others do not.
Some may think that RomComs are just for women, but men and the male depiction in society has the same stuff, but in a different package. If we just have a promotion, work a few more hours, are tough enough, rich enough, drive the right car/truck/motorcycle, etc. then we will have life as it should be.
Yet, all of these lack the same element that “Sweet Home Alabama” touches on. Melanie Smooter has to give up the life she thought she wanted for the life that was actually better suited for her and better for her overall. When she realized what she had, she could sacrifice what she thought she wanted.
In the parables which Jesus presents today, we have a sharecropper plowing a field and a merchant looking for the best deals. The sharecropper comes up on the most treasured prize by accident. He stumbles upon it. He is just trying to make the furrows in the landowners field straight so he can have a good crop, make a living, mind his own business and all of a sudden, the plow blade hits a box. When he opens the box, he realizes that its contents are worth stopping his planting, selling everything he had, and buying the field.
The merchant, on the other hand, is seeking the prize. In fact, pearls at the time of Jesus’ parable were considered the most valuable treasure. He finds a pearl that is beyond what he has ever found. It is so valuable that he goes, sells all he has and buys the pearl. He gets rid of everything that stands in the way of his buying the pearl.
All of these are allegories of what it means to become a Christian. Being a Christian is a total reorientation of life. It involves great sacrifice. Often, families do not understand it when someone “finds Jesus.” These parables lay out that process. Becoming a Christian is when we either embrace the baptism of our youth or ask to be baptized if we haven’t been because the great treasure, the great prize in our life, is Jesus Christ. We are willing to no longer think that pleasing our parents is the most valuable prize, we begin to see that loving God is the most important thing.
We begin to reorient our activities toward making sure we are at Church to worship, not because we have to or feel guilty because we don’t, but because we want to be there. We want to experience Jesus Christ in the Word preached and the Body and Blood within us.
When we begin to shed our allegiances to friends who do things that Jesus doesn’t want us to do, people don’t know what to do with us. When we begin to pray every day and say, “I will pray for you,” our co-workers look at us as if we have two heads. We begin to have a reputation as a goody two shoes, a prude, a person who isn’t in touch with our bodies. (Let me just say to that last one, when one becomes a Christian, our bodies become much more valuable and precious than they did when we just used them indiscriminately).
We literally have to break ties with friends and family to follow Jesus sometimes. I hope that is not the case for you, but sometimes we do. Most of all, the Gospel, Jesus Christ, the Bible, praying, and the teachings of the Church become the organizing principle of our lives when we discover that God loves us. We begin to make Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the center of our thinking, the center of how we spend our time, and the center of how we spend our money. We begin to ask the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” because our lives have become part of God’s mission to renew the face of the earth. There simply is no room for other idols, other gods, other things that crowd out God’s love and will for us.
That is a sacrifice friends. Biblical Commentator, Fr. John Shea says that we cling to those things that no longer serve us or our interests. I wonder if we realize that they never did serve us or our interests. The pursuit of a romantic relationship, like Melanie Smooter in “Sweet Home Alabama” and the countless other Romantic Comedies, does not give life meaning. It is the context of meaning from the Gospel that gives a romantic relationship meaning. The pursuit of money just makes us wealthy, it does not give meaning to our lives. My mother used to say, “It is just money.”
What we are doing [here] at Mass [or service] on Sundays, is more than self-help, psychological pandering, feeling better to make it through the week, or making sure we have a spot in heaven. No. What we are doing is so much more than that. Being a Christian and worshiping is to find our place in God’s creation and mission for the world. Being a Christian is understanding that the world and people are awful to each other and there needs to be a place where that stops and it stops now. It is knowing that we, you, have a mission to take whatever skills and talents you have and we, you, need to use them for the advancement of the Father’s will to renew the face of the earth. We are the true lovers. We are the true peacebuilders. We are the true renewers. We are the true brothers keepers. We are the ones who take a little and it produces thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold because we go, not for ourselves, not for the good of humanity. We go as sentries, missionaries, light bearers of the living God! What is that calling, your calling, worth to you?
It is worth everything. Go. Sell all you have. Give it to the poor. Come follow Christ. There is a mission to be done. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian