Today in Australia we honour our first native saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop who is also secondary patroness of our community, which gives us even greater incentive to honour her in a fitting manner. Her love and zeal for souls inspired her to undertake extraordinary feats which demanded superhuman energy and exposed her, as is so often the case with religious founders, to persecution, which in her case led to the extreme: she was excommunicated!
Her manner of accepting all these trials is nothing short of admirable. Always seeing the Hand of God in events and in superiors, her view on reality was a supernatural one. The Holy Gospel tells us that the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which when a man finds, he goes and buries it again and sells all he has to buy that field. Why is this passage relevant to St Mary and, in general, why is it used on the feasts of virgins?
St Gregory helps to us understand this when he teaches that the treasure is nothing other than the desire for heavenly realities. The field in which the treasure is hidden is the self-discipline required to attain to heavenly things. When one sells everything one has to buy that field, one is essentially renouncing the pleasures of the flesh and keeping in check all earthly desires in such a way that the soul is neither swayed by the caresses of the flesh nor deterred from the mortification required to keep it in check.
May St Mary of the Cross obtain for us a share in her intense love for Christ. May she obtain for many young women to dedicate their lives to Him and to discover the joy she expressed in this letter to her mother: "What a happiness it will be to you to think that some of your children are endeavouring to serve God in holy Religion — their one great wish being to lead souls to Him... How many are lost through indifference and coldness of those who might and should think more of their eternal welfare and far less of this miserable world?... Think, dear Mamma, of the work that is to be done, and how few there are to do it, and thank God for permitting a child of yours to be one — the least worthy — of the workers".
Mary MacKillop found the "treasure hidden in the field". We ask her to help many young men and women in our day to find it too, and to leave all things and sell everything they have to buy that field.