Every Dig is A Gem
By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose
Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose
Matthew and Luke offer different versions of the Great Sermon. While Matthew’s version takes place on the Mount, Luke’s version takes place on the plain. Matthew’s version has eight beatitudes that provide hope in the future for a current condition now. We are most familiar with this version. Luke has four blessings contrasted with four woes: Blessed are poor and woe are the rich; blessed are the hungry and woe are the full; blessed are those who weep and woe to those who laugh; blessed are the hated and woe to those of whom people speak well.
Jesus says God blesses those who are in poverty, hunger, sadness, or who are hated because of his name. But it is not the conditions themselves that are blessed rather those in these conditions who are changed. When we are poor, hunger, sad or hated because of God our state of mind changes; we become more open to God. We are not guaranteed to turn to God, but we become more open to God’s will.
It is easier to understand when we look at the opposite. What happens when we are rich, full, or happy and people speak well of us all the time? Often, we have no need or time for God because we are full of ourselves. It is not then the condition of poverty, hunger, sorrow and hate that transforms us but the person of Jesus Christ. He became one of us to show us the way to eternal life.
Emmet Fox, a great philosopher and scripture scholar from the 1960s compares the study of scripture to digging for diamonds in South Africa. When they seek diamonds, they spend weeks and months digging through the different layers of the earth surface. When they reach the yellow clay they start to discover gems and will spend days and weeks recovering just a few stones. Some miners are tempted to quit after such finds but if they keep digging, they will reach the blue clay where with every day’s dig they will uncover gems that previously took weeks or months to find.
We can find treasures deep within scripture if only we are ready to dig a little deeper. We must be prepared to get below the surface of the text into the deeper meaning that relates to our current lives. We must be willing to dig deeper into our own lives and allow Christ to show us the way through scripture.
The challenge of the Gospel is how the present condition can determine our future condition in eternity. The challenge for us today is no matter what our condition in life we find ourselves we have the choice to open our hearts to the Lord. Our challenge is to not stop at the yellow clay of the surface of our hearts but to continue digging deeper into the blue clay where with each dig and every dig we will receive gems of God’s grace.