Scripture Reflection: A Joyful Faith

By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network Coordinator of Recruitment and Alumni Relations

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” - Matthew 13:44-46

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that two things you should never bring up at a dinner party are politics and religion. Sadly, it seems that these topics have become so divisive that many people steer clear of them altogether.  Having lived in Washington, D.C. for six years, while working at Catholic Volunteer Network (and having a husband who is working on a Masters of Divinity degree), I’ve found these topics nearly impossible to avoid. If I cannot talk about politics or religion, it seems there is little left that is of much relevance to my life. Sports and celebrity gossip are interesting conversation starters, but they lack the depth I desire when gathering with friends.  I won’t touch on politics here, but I’ve starting to think more about how I can talk about religion in ways that strengthen unity rather than cause division.

Reflecting upon Jesus’ teachings on faith, I was struck by the parable of the treasure hidden in a field. This treasure was significant enough to turn the finder’s life upside down – everything he held onto prior to that discovery suddenly became meaningless. He rid himself of these things, not out of guilt, but with great joy. Fr. Michael Himes, professor of Theology at Boston College, defines joy as “a deep satisfaction in the way one is living one’s life.”  The man understood that his treasure provided a measure of security that could not be undone. In this passage we also learned about the merchant who collected fine pearls. When he found one of exceptional value – he forfeited the collection he worked a lifetime to amass. All for one single pearl. These stories teach us that our faith can provide protection from fear.  This experience of joy, as the result of a deep and personal faith, brings with it much peace and confidence.   After discovering their pearl and treasure, I don’t imagine that these individuals became bitter, reclusive, or timid – but their new joy probably made them lighter and even fun to be around.

Perhaps many of us shy away from discussing our thoughts on religion because we fear it will cause conflict or bring the conversation to an uncomfortable halt. There must be some way to discuss these sensitive matters in a better way. The question I am now asking myself is “Where is my joy?” When I talk about religion, am I speaking from the heart and drawing on my personal encounters with God? Do I approach the conversation with respect for the faith journeys of others? And most importantly – am I searching for God in each of those encounters? Discussing more often matters of religion and faith with confidence and respect may be the key to unlock a more joyful faith.

Questions for Further Reflection:

  1. What are times in your life that you’ve found yourself searching for God?
  2. How has your faith lead you to an experience of joy?
  3. In what unlikely ways has God spoken to you through the words of others?