Finding Jesus is finding A Priceless Treasure
Readings: Wis 12, 13.16-19; Ps 86, 5-6.9-10.15-16a; Rm 8, 26-27; Mt 13, 24-43
The word of God on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time invites us to search for an imperishable treasure and to find it in Jesus. The treasure of the Kingdom of God gives one the courage to sell off everything in order to acquire it. In the end we recognize that it is priceless and a gift of grace. This treasure gives us new tastes and preferences.
Search for the Treasure
Whoever sets oneself on a search manifests a fact that s/he is lacking something. It is the state of non-fulfilment that moves one to search for something that promises fulfilment. Today’s first reading from the first book of Kings presents to us a man who had a great responsibility entrusted to him. King Solomon was stepping into the shoes of his father David. He recognized his inability to lead God’s people with his own resources. The Lord told him to ask for what He was to give him. The greatest treasure that he asked for was wisdom for good governance. He wished to have an understanding mind capable of discerning between good and evil. We see Solomon accepting human limitation and acknowledging God to be omniscient, all-knowing. In the book of Genesis, God has commanded the human not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2, 17). This knowledge is always sought from God. If the human being usurps it, s/he drowns into sinful pride. God granted it to him and thus was considered to be a wise man. This wisdom enables human beings to let God be God. The Psalmist testifies to the fact that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111, 10). It is not surprising to find many human beings even scientists (those supposed to know) who possess extraordinary knowledge but in a practical sense not wise at all. Is it perhaps because they don’t have space for God in their lives? I wish all those who claim to know on our behalf and those who govern us would search for a discerning mind!!! If God gives you a chance to ask for the most urgent favor, what would you ask for?
The Treasure among treasures
In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses parables to point to the Kingdom of God which He proposes as the Treasure. Whoever finds this treasure is determined to make an overhaul of one’s life in order to have it. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus invites the rich young man to go and sell everything he possess, give it to the poor and come to follow Him in order to have a treasure in heaven (Mk 10,21). Instead of accepting this invitation the young man went away sad because of his attachment to his “wealth”. There are many things and persons which we hold dear in our lives. They are treasures. But Jesus wants us to distinguish the treasure of belonging to God’s Kingdom from the many small treasures of the world. He tells us in another gospel text: “Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and the rest will be given unto you!” (Mt 6, 33). The kingdom of God gives true freedom and true happiness. It is not the happiness that people find in wealth, health, power and influence. All these come to an end but the faith in the living God leads to eternal peace. Choose Jesus and the values of the kingdoms that He proclaims, and then you store for yourself a treasure that nobody can ever steal from you! St. Paul, in today’s second reading, is a witness to the effects of having God on one’s side: “Everything works for good with those who love Him” (Rm 8, 28). He considered all the treasures of his past life to be a complete loss compared to the treasure of finding Christ. This doesn’t mean that life becomes easy for those following Jesus. No. The cross is guaranteed, but the suffering encountered on the journey of discipleship works towards the maturity of Christ’s follower. The crucified is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1, 24). We need the wisdom of God which is given by His Holy Spirit in order to discern between the priceless Treasure and the many cheap treasures.
Treasure in earthen vessels
Whereas following Christ demands total detachment and self-denial on our side, we ought to remember that the treasure of faith and discipleship is God’s gift of grace. It is not earned. We hold it in vessels made out of clay. St. Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, reminds us: “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us” (2 Cor 4, 7). Many a times we are leaking containers. The grace of our baptism is proved to be ineffective because we give a counter witness to the values of God’s Kingdom. This is partly because we tend to choose what is easy amidst the many challenging options we are offered in life. We forget that the gate leading to destruction is broad whereas that leading to true life of the Kingdom is narrow (Mt 7, 13-14). Choosing to follow Jesus and to live the values of the Kingdom will sometimes mean accepting to be different. Christians do not follow anybody else apart from Jesus Christ. Christians are in the world but not of the world.
Faith as a shared treasure
In a restless world there are many searchers for faith, truth, hope, justice, peace, reconciliation and happiness. Christians ought to offer alternatives to those who have searched elsewhere but never found fulfilment. Jesus says: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17, 201-21). May the searchers of our time find truth, peace and solidarity in our personal lives but also in our Christian communities! Our faith can only grow if we are ready to share it. May all those who have found the treasure of God’s kingdom and its values contribute to the transformation of life! The Christian input must be felt in both politics and economics! In this way we shall rightly be the light of the world and salt of the earth.