Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

In the last few weeks, we’ve had an earthquake in China, gun laws failing to pass in Congress, an explosion in West, TX, the Boston Marathon bombing, and flooding throughout our city. In my own life, work has been very demanding, we’ve been juggling finances, car trouble, and even allergy and sinus infections. Where is the good news?

Almost in desperation, I found myself thinking back to a story Earl Nightingale tells about a farmer who lived in South Africa who became tremendously excited about making in fortune in discovering diamonds. Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent, and this farmer got so excited that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond region. But as the years slipped by, he searched in vain for diamonds and wealth. Eventually, he went completely broke, and his life ended tragically, with nothing to show but bitterness and frustration.

Meanwhile, soon after he moved in, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a large egg, and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by one day a few years later, and in viewing the rock, almost passed out with excitement. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was one of the biggest raw diamonds he had ever seen. The new owner of the farm said, “Heck, the whole farm is covered with them” – and sure enough it was. The farm turned out to be the future site of the Kimberly Diamond Mine… one of the largest and most successful diamond mines in the world. The original farmer was literally standing on “acres of diamonds,” and he sold it away.

Acres of diamonds. It’s just like our second reading from Revelation today. Our lives are so blessed, there is no need to be constantly searching elsewhere for the graces right at our feet. We know that Heaven is where God is. And if God is here, in our relationships, in our hearts and souls, then the very seeds of heaven are planted all around us. That’s what Jesus came to preach about, the focus of all his sermons — “the kingdom of God is among you.” This is the “pearl of great price,” the thing for which the whole world is far too small a price to pay.

Vatican II and the CCC were loud and clear on this: God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessings will answer and surpass all the longings for peace that live in our hearts. The “new” made from the “old.” We are part of it. We have to be, or there would be no “new earth”. Think about it: our lives, our earth… restored. A New Jerusalem.

Now, as interesting and hopeful as this sounds, Paul and Barnabas tell us that it is “necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter into that Kingdom of God.” In other words, we can’t get discouraged when we realize that the terrorists are not going away, that we will disagree with people at work or at home, that sin will overtake us at times, that we will have money problems when we choose to live a simple life, that some people will take advantage of us at work.

Because we are creating a “new” earth as well… when you hug someone who has suffered a loss, when you donate to a clothing drive, when you cook someone dinner the day they come home from the hospital, when you meet an old friend for coffee, when you read about first responders, when you take your grandkids out to a movie and dinner…. when we hold out our hands, and say ‘Amen.’

God, help me get the habit of seeing the good in our world. Help me to understand that without Christ, without the Church, without the Eucharist at the center, I can’t see the wood for the trees. Show me your grace. Here. Now. Lord, I want to see, and I want to be a part of the building of the Kingdom. I want to see my acres of stones for what they really are, and try to change.

I have a challenge for you today. The next time you have to do something you do not want to do, or you are not looking forward to doing, I want you to say to yourself – ‘acres of diamonds’. Try to see that what lies ahead is not a burden, but a blessing. Look for the Kingdom of God. What’s “new” is you. God is waiting. Even in the worst of circumstances, the good shows up. Good Friday gave us Easter Sunday.

Why didn’t God create a better world?  He did. It’s just hidden in the bad one. Like diamonds… acres and acres of diamonds.

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