Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memorial of Saint Ignatius, priest

(Exodus 34:29-35; Matthew 13:44-46)

At one point Ignatius of Loyola prayed, Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.  But are liberty and free will qualities that one can barter?  Or is the saint only expressing metaphorically his desire to subject himself to God as St. Paul wrote of being God’s “slave”?  It seems that free will is an inalienable gift beyond one’s power to trade away.  Nevertheless, the wise person would exchange it if she or he could for a share in the Kingdom of God as today’s gospel describes.

Jesus is explaining the value of the Kingdom of God (which is to know God Himself).  He says that it is more precious than the costliest items – a choice piece of land or a handsome pearl.  To procure it one has to make the requisite sacrifices.  Like a student desiring to get into Harvard, the aspirant of the Kingdom must discipline himself or herself to God’s will.  That is, she or he must love as Jesus teaches. 

If we cannot give up our freedom, we certainly can employ it to opt for God.  We will be chaste rather than promiscuous, generous rather than selfish, obedient rather than unruly.  It is more than a fair exchange.  All in all, we give up little and gain everything.