With the joy of finding our treasure...

Buried treasure... a pearl of great price... last Sunday's Gospel, repeated today, presents us with some compelling images of the Kingdom, of the joy of finding a treasure and the joyous, profligate selling of everything in order to acquire this precious, priceless thing which matters above all else. This is a Gospel in which risk, reason and 'what ifs' are cast aside - all that matters is the prize.

As I reflected on the Gospel I found myself thinking of a line from our Constitutions: with the joy of finding our treasure... These words occur only once, in the paragraph which introduces the section on the vow of chastity. Elsewhere, with the other vows, the Constitutions speak of a loving response, of surrender and commitment, but only this vow is described as treasure...

Jesus calls us to love him with a preferential love.
A life of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom
is a gratuitous gift of God which surpasses
human understanding.
From this gift comes the strength
which liberates our heart to respond freely to Jesus
and to direct all our energies towards mission.
With the joy of finding our treasure,
we welcome this gift in faith.

This might surprise those people who view lifelong intentional chastity as negative, or assume it is a great sacrifice and loss, grudgingly accepted. Instead, for those truly called to it, chastity is total gift, not just 'part of the package'; it is something to be welcomed, not merely accepted. Yes, it comes at a cost: there is a price to pay, but the price - as in the Gospel - is never greater than what is being offered, and is definitely worth it.

The challenge for anyone discerning a possible call to religious life is to take the risk: to believe that what they are being called to is indeed buried treasure, which - yes - costs not less than everything, but which wondrously contains a gratuitous gift of God which surpasses human understanding. And the challenge for me and all religious is to live and love in a way which ensures we proclaim that we do indeed experience the joy of finding our treasure...

And then we will truly live the words with which the section on chastity ends:

Our happiness, our peace, our whole way of being,
will be a sign of Him whom we have met
and who comes every day of our lives
to fulfil God's Covenant with His people.

PS: Last year I also wrote about finding our vocation as finding our treasure - you can read that post here http://allthislifeandheaventoo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/finding-ones-treasure.html