Bible verse 1: Philippians 3:7-8
Bible verse 2: Matthew 13:44
Story after story we hear of saints who gave up everything to follow Christ. One of these saints happens to be my patron, St. Anthony of Padua.
St. Anthony was born to a wealthy noble family in Portugal. At fifteen he joined the Augustinians, but was distracted by his friends (a typical teenager, it seems) and was transferred to a different Abbey far away from these distractions.
It was here that he came across the Franciscans and heard about the first Franciscan martyrs, who had been beheaded in Morocco. St. Anthony was attracted to the simplicity or the order and filled with a burning desire to emulate these martyrs and become a martyr himself.
St. Anthony joined the Franciscans and set out on his journey to Morocco, but fell ill and was sent back to Portugal. He was devastated. How could God deny his thirst to become a martyr? Why would He? How could this fire within him, this goal be taken away?
To us it may seem strange, but for St. Anthony, he saw martyrdom as his destiny. God had other plans for him, though. He became one of the best known preachers and Doctors of the Church.
St. Anthony gave up a lot in his life, but all these losses he saw as gains for Christ. He kept his eye to Jesus and disregarded the world. He left his family, wealth, friends, and even his dream of martyrdom, all to do the Lord’s will.
Jesus taught in Matthew that the one who finds the kingdom of heaven is like a person who finds a treasure buried in a field and sells all that he has to purchase it. A lot of the time I take the Kingdom of Heaven for granted. I go through the motions at Mass, I take the Eucharist lightly. I struggle to get the diaper bag packed and out the door, when it would be so much easier just to stay home on a Sunday evening. Do my heart and behavior really mimic that of someone who has found the greatest treasure this life can offer? Not really.
So much of my time is spent in acquiring possessions, fulfilling personal goals and dreams, that sometimes I forget to pause and ask God “is this what you want from me?” And if his answer is “no” would I give it up for Him? It’s something I’m working on.
We all experience suffering in our life. We all have things and habits and people we don’t want to part with, even if we know it is what God wants of us. Sometimes we have dreams that we hold onto with clenched fists, not even realizing that God has a different dream he would like to place in our hearts. I pray that we would be like St. Anthony and strive for the Lord’s will in our life, even when it seems impossible, even when it seems like we are letting go of a good thing. What God has in store for us is so much more rewarding.
Reflection question 1: What is something that God may be asking you to give up in your life? Ask God to help you to let go of this.
Reflection question 2: Do you truly act like the person who finds the buried treasure in the field? How can you be more like the person in this parable?
Act: Spend some time journaling with God today. Ask Him if there is anything in your life that he wants you to give up. Ask Him if there is anything he wants you to take on (maybe a volunteer role, or a new dream for your life, or even something smaller like waking up early to pray). Make a plan for how you can accomplish these things.