In the readings of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary time, Jesus once again speaks in parables to His disciples. He compares the Kingdom of God to a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of a great price, which would cause anyone who finds it, “in his joy,” to sell all that he has in order to possess it.
Many of us when we talk about treasures, we immediately think of with jewelries, diamonds, silver and gold or lavish homes and cars and other extravagant material things. They catch our eyes and give us instantaneous joy with an adrenaline rush that lasts for a short period only to leave us restless, unsatisfied and unfulfilled. They drive our human inclination, our insatiable appetite, to want more and more and more.
Even Jesus’ very own intimate disciples, the mention of a Kingdom captivates their minds and triggers thoughts of power. They become political, self-serving and ambitious. Pope Francis, in one of his recent morning mass homilies, warns us against earthly treasures, “of the allure of money, power and prestige, which hardens the heart and can never bring true happiness. Worst, you lose your soul. He says, “How many proud and powerful men and women have ended up in anonymity, in poverty and in prison?” The tragedy of the rich young man to whom Jesus offered perfection and treasures is surreal. How many more blows of rejection will Christ absorb? Jesus wants us to be free. Our hearts can only be free if we seek the treasures of heaven. So what are these immeasurable treasures, and where are they hidden? Earthly treasures catch our eyes, but the Epistle reminds us to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Heavenly treasures capture our heart. They are neither riches, power nor fame. As St Paul writes, “What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus for His sake, I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Phil 3:8) Wasn’t it also Paul who said, “I am the worst of them all!”? (1 Tm 1:15) When the scales had fallen from his eyes, he beheld the long hidden treasure before him and abandoned all that he held most dear.
We are reminded of the abundant blessings that impart to the human soul durable riches and honor. The spiritual reality is the treasure of God is buried in us. Remember the Parable of the Sower? God planted the Seed and It grew and took root in us sacramentally in the grace of baptism, “unless one is born again of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Jn 3:5) He lives in us, His Temple. He always has been there, and what we are seeking was there all the time. We never paid attention to Him. He does the stirring, the prompting, the restlessness “until we rest in Him.” He is persistent and patient with us. We live our lives without much thought of how truly rich we are. We have what it takes to do what God command us. He promises us that all things will work for good for all of us. There is one caveat to this promise: treasure Him. How? The inestimable blessing of faith demands our faithfulness. Without it, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11.6) He gave Himself to us, and receiving Him in Communion is our ultimate adoration. He demands virtue and perseverance in suffering. This may be a challenge for many of us who are burned out by the demands of life, hurt and rejected, exploited or abused and at times, abandoned and neglected. But God says His “power is perfected in our weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). He overcomes all our imperfections, weaknesses, and deficiencies. He carries our pain and suffering; gives us peace that earthly riches cannot give, unspeakable joy that money cannot not buy and hope that modern medicine cannot offer.
His Kingdom also demands resolution and labors. Love, charity, service, and tenderness are beautiful treasures. When you share them with others, they become yours forever. Finally, His kingdom welcomes the contrite heart. Jesus remembers the repentant sinner when He comes into His kingdom. Pure souls keep the Kingdom, the impure loses it.
Yes, we do own the Greatest Treasure, and we do not have to sell all that we have to possess it The purchase price is beyond us. We cannot afford it. The truth is that it has already been paid for us by Christ, purchased by His Blood on the Cross. Abba Father gave us His most precious Jewel. He exchanges our bad for His good. The challenge is upon us. Which treasures do we wind up on the last day? As the Pope said with a hint of irony “I have never seen a moving van following a funeral procession. But there is a treasure we can take with us, a treasure that no one can take away-- not those things you kept for yourself, but those you have given to others.”
“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” (Lk 12:34)