If someone asks me how I became Franciscan friar? I give whole credit to my grandpa. He was a secular Franciscan. He passed away the year I was joining the seminary. He used to take me every to the church, especially during vacation time.
In India every house has a prayer room or a place for prayer. Usually in that place or room, there will be picture or statue of sacred heart, Mother Mary. It's a must. My brother recently renovated his home and spent $ 600 for prayer place in his home. I shouldn't have asked this, but I inquired him, why do you spend that much money for a prayer place? He said, yes, without God's blessing I wouldn't have a life like this. God must be given importance in home.
And in the same way my grandpa's home has a prayer place as well. In the prayer place, I grew up seeing a picture of St. Francis. I didn't know who he is but the picture fascinated me. It was a picture where St. Francis stepping on the globe and embracing Jesus. One day, after church I asked my grandpa. Grandpa, who is that on the picture? What does the picture mean? I remember grandpa told me. That's St. Francis of Assisi, a great humble Saint. He left everything in his life to hold on to the great treasure in the world- Jesus Christ the crucified. You are seeing in the pictures St. Francis embracing the great treasure- Jesus.
Yes. I was learning about St. Francis for the first time. Then I learned, he started a religious life with 10 friars and later so many people followed him, and he became an icon of love for nature, love for poor and love for Jesus. And the world changed because of this humble man of Assisi. I believe it's my grandpa who inspired me to become a Franciscan. At the age of 4or 5 my grandpa planted a seed in me. If you are a grandma or grandpa who is listening to me, please don't forget you inspire your grandchildren, may be more than parents.
Yes, St. Francis was leaving everything that he had, wealth, business, dream to become a knight, everything to follow the great treasure that's Jesus. I can't think of any other Saint than St. Francis to explain today's parable.
I found a special way in my life to treasure Jesus by giving up my dreams of having a family, wife, children, dream job. I renounced these things for the great treasure, Jesus. It doesn't mean that you have to renounce everything like me. But each one of us has to find our own ways to treasure Jesus in our lives. And as we hear these parables, we have to reflect, how we treasure Jesus in our daily lives? How we value heavenly treasures?
In today's parables both farmer and merchant sells everything to buy what's precious- the treasure. And we all know the treasure and pearl mentioned in the parable is Jesus himself. World is the field. We are the farmer or merchant. We have many things that's not of Jesus in the world. The choice is ours. If we treasure Jesus we will be part of the kingdom of a God.
Both merchant and farmer gave up everything in order to have this treasure. Today as we hear the Gospel we have to find out What we have to give up to have a life with Jesus. It may be attachments, may be addiction, sins.
Close your eyes, let us say this prayer:
"Lord Jesus, reveal to me the true riches of your kingdom. Help me to set my heart on you alone as the treasure beyond compare with any other. Free my heart of any inordinate desires or attachment to other things that I may freely give to you all that I have in joy and gratitude for all that you have given to me. May I always find joy and delight in your presence."
Fr. John Pozhathuparambil