St. Margaret of Scotland
From time to time I make the mistake of comparing my journey to the journeys of others. The stories of those I meet for whom Jesus has been a life-long companion or for whom God has been the object of many, many years of devoted searching, these are the stories that arrest me and leave me tempted to see myself in an unworthy light.
For I did not grow up in the conscious company of Jesus, and my path into the faith was something I unexpectedly tripped over one day in some field of my heart. No years of devotion or study prepared me to meet him there, but I quickly sold all that I had to buy that field of heart.
I can see now what a mistake it has been of me to entertain those episodes of self-pitying comparison, however, because we see them both affirmed in this morning’s gospel. Jesus begins, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” and then spells out two different ways one might approach the life of faith—two paths to the same kingdom.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field,
which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Here is a person for whom the kingdom is an unexpected joy, a great treasure tripped over by happenstance. Not the object of great striving per se, but the gift of God’s prodigal generosity. And still, we hear of yet another path:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Here, we encounter the journey of one who has spent many years in faithful searching, study, or practice—a merchant of soul always refining their craft until at last, through devoted searching, they find that pearl of great value.
Two paths into the kingdom, and Jesus tells us they are both valid. This is significant for us as we remember Saint Margaret, the Queen of Scotland. Margaret was not herself Scottish, but was the daughter of English royalty, married to the Scottish King, Malcolm (the Malcolm of MacBeth notoriety). The late eleventh century in which she lived was marked by all kinds of disunion and fractious violence—a temporal fabric not terribly unlike our own. Much of Margaret’s motivation was centered primarily on bridging these divisions and ending strife among her people. She encouraged greater unity between English and Scottish Christians and even ended the warfare that had raged among the highland clans.
Margaret’s example invites us to see past the fractious divisions of our world and to approach those we meet with a softer heart—one that sees how the many diverse expressions of faith we meet are at their core in union because each has the potential to lead to God.
Some may have spent years and years of sweat and blood for the kingdom’s realization; others may have simply tripped over it while they weren’t even looking for it. May we have ears, like Margaret, to hear in these stories the voice of Christ beckoning us ever forward; may we have eyes, like Margaret, to see your Holy Spirit at work in the world’s diversity of experience. May we, with Margaret and all your saints, rejoice in that heavenly unity prepared for us in the heart of Jesus, whose heart we meet day by day in the lives of our neighbors.
 Matthew 13:44
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