Gospel Meditation: The Kingdom of Heaven
I offer a guided Ignatian meditation on today's Gospel. This is an invitation to let the scripture enter into your heart and mind and speak personally to you. Ignatius said that meditation specifically engages our memory, thoughts, and will. We hear the word of God, and we ponder it, noticing any words, images, or ideas that speak to our hearts. And we speak to God about all of this.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the text. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text.
If at any point during the guided meditation the scripture comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written meditation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Background to the text
Today's reading comes from the final section of Jesus' discourse on the kingdom of heaven in Matthew's gospel. He has dismissed the crowd and is speaking only to the disciples. Both parables share themes of seeking/discovering, celebrating, and selling all to gain that which precious.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for the the grace of joy in the reign of God.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly twice, savoring the words. The first time, just listen to get a sense of it, to hear what is being said. The second time, notice any word or phrase, image, or idea that speaks to your heart or “shimmers” for you. Stay with that word, image, or idea and ponder its meaning. Notice how it makes you feel. Savor the experience.
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
A treasure buried in a field, a pearl of great price… Jesus uses these objects and the lengths people go to acquire them, in a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God. They are material things, but God’s reign is not.
Where is your treasure? Where do you invest your energy and time?
Notice the urgency from both the person who found the treasure in the field and the merchant. They don’t lose any time in selling all that they have in order to gain that which is most precious to them. They are not waiting or delaying. The kingdom of God is not just in the future, it is now, breaking into our world today. Where do you experience the Kingdom of God in the world, in your life?
The two people in these brief parables give all for that which is most important – and they do it with great joy, excitement even. It’s not a duty or an obligation.
Where is your joy? Can you name it?
Ask Jesus to show you where he is inviting you to find joy.
Take a few moments to talk with Jesus about all you have reflected on, and what you are feeling and thinking right now. Speak with him as with a friend, sharing and listening. When you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?