Creative change

Daily Reading for July 27 • The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

After the farmer discovered the buried treasure and the merchant found the unique pearl, their lives became genuinely different. All that they had was seen in a new light, and there was a joyful rearrangement of things. Suddenly, there was a willingness to let go of what one did have in order to acquire something that was obviously better. In other words, when the summon bonum comes along and is recognized, it changes the way we evaluate everything and can lead to the radical reordering of our lives. It seems clear that in these parables Jesus was addressing the whole issue of change and how it can occur in positive and creative ways.

If you stop and think about it, every experience of change has two very different aspects. On the one hand, we get something that we did not have, and on the other hand, we give up something that we did have: we gain something at the same time that we lose something. At the most basic level, this is what change is and does. In these first two parables, Jesus is saying that healthy change occurs when we discern that the thing that is being offered is greater and better than the thing that is being taken away. This is why he tells us that the man who found the treasure went and sold everything he owned to buy the field, and he did it with great joy.

Creative changes occur in our lives when we discern that what is being given is really of a greater value than what is being asked of us. The same experience, however, becomes destructive when the gain dimension is not obvious, and when all we can think about is the loss dimension. From this perspective, change is by no means a life-enhancing and life-enriching process, but rather a diminishment and a lessening of the good. . . .

The experience of change gives us something as well as takes something away. If we can learn to focus on what we are given, then our attitude toward change can become genuinely different. Instead of digging in our heels and saying, “Come weal, come woe, my status is quo,” we can begin to search through the new and different landscape which change necessarily brings for the gift that we are being given.

From Stories Jesus Still Tells by John Claypool, revised second edition (Cowley Publications, 2000).

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