The joy of letting go

“so happy is he
that he goes and sells everything he has”
Matthew 13, 44

 Reading today’s Gospel I was struck by the joy with which the person sells everything. The Christian Community Bible translation puts it so beautifully and starkly:

“The one who finds [the treasure hidden in a field] buries it again, and so happy is he that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field.”

I have not sold everything. I have boxes (mostly of books) stored with friends in the US. But when I decided that God was calling me here to Honduras a little more than four years ago, I was faced with the question of what to do with all I had.

And so I sold and gave away a lot. (I didn’t give it all to the poor, though, but put some in savings for the future.) It was hard to part with some things but gradually it became easier.

It became especially easy when I decided that on my 60th birthday – two weeks because I left for Honduras – I’d have a party and invite friends to come and take away something – mostly some things I prized in some way (textiles, prints, art work) but wanted to give away to people I knew.

Somehow I was freed up to be able to distance myself from most of what I had, I was able to let go of many of my possessions.

And so the joy that the person in the parable experiences, the joy that led him to sell all, is something that I can recognize and appreciate.

It is the joy of the Reign of God. As Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote in his commentary on today’s Gospel, in Sharing the Word of God through the Liturgical Year  (Orbis Books, 1997):

Joy is the reaction which corresponds to the grace of the kingdom. Selling all that we have does not mean doing that begrudgingly, as if it were a sacrifice. It should be a spontaneous gesture, something that we gladly do because we have discovered something which gives meaning to our lives.

What more can I let go of – with joy?


One response to “The joy of letting go

  1. Hi John! Just wanted to let you know that one of the things you let go – a compact Bible with a red cover – made its way into my hands (via Anne). It has been well traveled and much used. I often think of you when I put it into another bag on my travels! Thanks for sharing.

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