Read Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

In our Gospel passage today, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a field that contains a lot of precious treasures which a man finds, and goes to sell all he has just to buy it. Just as the price of the field necessitated this man selling everything he has, the kingdom of God is not cheap, it demands that we let go of everything we have; our free will, our time, our whole-hearted commitment, our total loyalty and so much more.

We cannot get to heaven if we are just trying to be average Christians concerned only about doing the minimum. We cannot get to heaven if we are only after the material blessing and earthly prosperity. We cannot get to heaven if we are not ready to sacrifice the pleasures of this world. To sell everything one has is to willingly lose those things on which the world prides itself on. It is choosing to live according to the beatitudes, being meek, poor in spirit, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, and hungry for righteousness.

Selling everything we have according to St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians is that we no longer look to our selfish interests only but to the interests of others. “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interests of others.” Phil. 2:3-4. The beauty of the priesthood is that it is a vocation that exemplifies selfless service.

In the life of Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, we see a priest who lived out the selflessness required of the priestly vocation and even went as far as practically letting go of everything else in other to “purchase” the kingdom of God. In fact, Blessed Tansi was often accused of taking his Christian faith too seriously.

Born to non-Christian parents in September 1903 in Aguleri, Anambra State, Nigeria, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was sent to live with his uncle at the age of seven. It was his Christian uncle who gave him an education. He was baptized at the age of 10 by Irish missionaries. Tansi was a diligent student with a precocious personality and deep piety. He worked as a teacher for 3 years and later served as a headmaster of St. Joseph’s school for one year in Aguleri.

In the movie about him, there is a particular scene that inspires me so much. When Tansi expressed his desire to become a priest, his uncle arranged for a very beautiful lady to visit him with the hope that she would make him think twice about becoming a priest. But despite several attempts, his uncle reached the conclusion that Tansi only talks to two women in the world; his own mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1925, against the wishes of his family, he entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Onitsha on 19 December 1937.

For a time Tansi worked tirelessly in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajali before discerning his vocation to be a Cistercian monk at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England. He lived this vocation at the abbey for 14 years. Father Tansi used to say: “If you are going to be a Christian at all, you might as well live entirely for God”.He died on 20 January 1964 and was beatified on 22 March 1998 by Saint John Paul in Nigeria. The Pope said of Father Cyprian:

He was first of all a man of God: his long hours before the Blessed Sacrament filled his heart with generous and courageous love. Those who knew him testified to his great love of God. Everyone who met him was touched by his personal goodness. He was then a man of the people: he always put others before himself and was especially attentive to the pastoral needs of families. He took great care to prepare couples well for Holy Matrimony and preached the importance of chastity. He tried in every way to promote the dignity of women. In a special way, the education of young people was precious to him.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, teach me to trust more and live entirely for you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Blessed Tansi, Pray for us.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, Priest – Feast, Bible Study: Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 13:44-46)

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu