THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION
The Gospel recounts two of Jesus’ short parables that have the same message. In both accounts, the protagonist discovers a treasure of enormous value or a pearl of incalculable price. And they both react in the same way: joyfully and decisively selling all that they have to obtain that treasure or pearl. According to Jesus, that’s the way to react when we discover God’s Reign.
Seemingly Jesus is afraid that people follow him with all kinds of interests, without discovering what’s most attractive and important: the Father’s passionate project that consists in leading humanity toward a more just, fraternal, happy world, thus walking toward their definitive salvation in God.
What can be said today after 20 centuries of Christianity? Why do so many good Christians live enclosed by their religious practice, feeling that they haven’t discovered any «treasure» therein? What is the root cause of that lack of enthusiasm and joy in all too many aspects of our church, incapable of attracting to the nucleus of the Gospel so many men and women who are leaving her, without thereby renouncing either God or Jesus?
After the Council, Paul VI made this broad affirmation: «Only God’s Reign is absolute. Everything else is relative». Years later, John Paul II reaffirmed this by saying: «The Church isn’t herself her own end, since she is oriented toward God’s Reign, of which she is the seed, the sign, and the instrument». Pope Francis comes along repeating to us: «Jesus’ project is to inaugurate God’s Reign».
If this is the Church’s faith, why are there Christians who haven’t even heard tell of that project that Jesus called «God’s Reign»? Why don’t they know that the passion that fueled Jesus’ whole life, his reason to be, the objective of all his work, was to announce and promote the Father’s humanizing project: seek God’s Reign and God’s justice?
The Church can’t be renovated at her root if she doesn’t discover the «treasure» of God’s Reign. It’s not the same to call Christians to collaborate with God in the grand project of making the world more human, as to live distracted by practices and customs that cause us to forget the true nucleus of the Gospel.
Pope Francis is telling us that «God’s Reign places demands on us». This shout reaches us from the very heart of the Gospel. We must heed it. Surely the most important decision that we need to make today in the Church and in our Christian communities is that of recovering the project of God’s Reign joyfully and enthusiastically.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf