Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 13:44–52
During my senior year in college, I was laser-focused on achieving one thing: landing a television newsroom internship. I quickly discovered this would be a challenging task. Although I combed through my contacts and blustered the two local news stations near our campus with phone calls inquiring about internships, nobody would return my calls. So I drove my green, two-door car to the ABC-affiliate news station just up the road from the university, knocked on the door, and hand delivered my cheesy resume, plastering on my warmest smile. The confidence I mustered immediately evaporated when greeted by a grumpy assignment editor who barely acknowledged my presence. He tossed my resume onto his desk, promising to call me soon for an interview. My phone never rang.
What began as a goal became a fixation. I raced to the local mall, bought a cheap black business suit, returned to the news station, and begged the receptionist to give me one brief appointment with the news director. Moments later, pulse racing, I was sitting in her office trying to convince her why she should hire me as an intern at ABC. I started the next day.
Loving the internship more than I imagined, the pace of the newsroom ignited a passion in my soul as I learned to cut film, shoot breaking news, write copy, and run the teleprompter. Working in the news industry was all I could think and talk about to my friends and family. Eventually, my hard work was rewarded with a job offer as a weekend producer. But there was one major caveat; the position would require me to neglect Sunday morning church. I prayed fervently over this. Although my conversion to the Catholic Church would come in my late twenties, I was a devout follower of Jesus Christ and was raised to respect the Sabbath. But this was my big break, and I could not pass up this dream. So, I took the job and committed to squeezing in a mid-week service at the local Baptist Church.
After graduation, I was promoted to the job of political news reporter and solo weekend anchor. My dream of having a career in TV news had finally come true! But I was surprised that my soul felt so unsettled. One evening, I was in church when our pastor asked us to open our Bibles to Matthew 13:44, the same passage we will read in this Sunday's gospel. As he read through the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, he animatedly asked a question that grabbed my attention.
“What is your life’s main priority?”
I felt chills cascade down my arms.
“Each of us is obsessed with something,” he continued. “Look at your time, money, conversations…what do they center around? What are you most focused on? That is what is ruling your heart.”
How would you answer those questions today? What is your obsession?
Perhaps you constantly check Snapchat or Instagram, hoping to finally get a DM from that one cute guy you’ve been eyeing. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with finding a better schooling option for your kid, or you find yourself obsessing over that difficult conversation you need to have with a family member. Maybe you are hyper-focused on counting calories to lose the extra baby weight or scouring Zillow to find that perfect property. Perhaps, like me, your current compulsion makes you do just about anything to obtain that one goal, maybe even causing you to neglect relationships, responsibilities, or your faith life.
Our obsessions are an indicator of what our heart treasures.
In this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus invites us to consider a new obsession, one centered on Him. In Matthew 13:44–46, Jesus says 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.”
Jesus invites us to find our obsession first in His kingdom. But what does that practically mean? The kingdom of God is His reign and rule over our life. It is surrendering our hearts to God’s Lordship over us so He can transform what stirs our hearts into ways that will glorify Him. He is inviting you to offer your talents, voice, handicraft, keen eye for organization, knack for cooking, or tender heart toward abused children for one purpose: to help others know Jesus.
What if we put our spotlight on that one pearl—the kingdom of heaven—over all of the other things that battle for our time and attention? Our God-given passions are not meant to compete with the kingdom but to complement it!
If we focus our energy, time, and money on the things of this world, we will feel empty and lost. Believe me, I did. Only pursuing the kingdom of God brings us everlasting peace and joy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”
Saint Ignatius tells us that knowing God’s direction for our life takes prayerful discernment and a heart utterly “occupied” with Jesus Christ. Although my news career was a blast, it did not last. I decided to surrender my temporary obsession for an eternal one that truly satisfies my heart. Ultimately, God invited me to use my love for public speaking and writing to minister to women nationwide. Everything else can be sold for one thing.
Today, let’s thank God for the passions He has placed in our hearts and ask Him for insight on how to use them to further His kingdom.
Food for thought or journaling…
What is my current obsession? What is my mind and heart most focused on right now? Is that thing bringing me lasting peace and purpose?
God, reveal to me what I am worshiping over You. Help me become obsessed with Your kingdom. Jesus, may I find my eternal treasure in You. Amen.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), #27.
 Timothy M. Gallagher, Discerning The Will of God: The Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making (The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York 2009), 48.