Today’s Gospel is Jesus explaining to His disciples what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Two of the three parables we hear in this reading, known collectively as the “Parables of Joy,” liken heaven to the joy of finding a buried treasure or a priceless pearl and then giving everything to obtain them.
The idea of buried treasure was not unusual for Jesus’ time. There were no banks and people often buried valuable possessions for safe keeping. But for us in our time, this would be rare and the word treasure has many more meanings. When reflecting on this reading, I wanted to talk about finding treasure in our lives and what that really means.
For inspiration I looked to some of my favorite authors. I also focus on some ways we think of treasure in our time with an emphasis on seeking the Kingdom of God.
The unknown author of the 14th century, “Cloud of Unknowing”, speaks of “surrendering one’s mind and ego to God.” This is a version of “…selling all that we have”. Not an easy thing to do, especially during a challenging time. A great loss can bring anger, hurt, and sorrow. Seeking to do God’s will and to turn oneself completely to God is not easy. But it can provide solace and calm. What a treasure we believers are given.
The Jesuit and paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, saw God’s plan in all forms of life. I have read that a simple walk in nature with him was indeed like finding a great treasure. He had the ability and knowledge to pick up a leaf and explain the science behind God’s plan and how all life leads to God.
St. Theresa of Avila wrote, “God has been very good to me, for I never dwell on anything bad a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I remember it, I always see some virtue in it.” Her “treasure” is a conviction to only see and remember the good in people.
I remember as a young child in religion class being encouraged to find my God given treasure. We were taught that all people are given special talents from God, we just need to discover and develop them. This was indeed reassuring, especially for a child who was not an athlete or an A student. Finding your God given treasure can be hard in a culture that heavily rewards achievement. Many treasures are more subtle, such as the gift of sensitivity or understanding. It is a treasure to be brought up in a faith and be surrounded by people who love you and share their treasure with others.
Over our life span, the idea of treasure may change. What once felt like a great joy or gift may no longer hold that significance. We humans can place great importance on the material treasures and less on the spiritual, thinking of our prayer life as an adjunct to our other pursuits.
For those in the older stages of life, the gift of time can be the rarest of treasures. The gift of time affords the opportunity for deep thought. Time affords contemplation and prayer. It is surely the gift of thoughtfulness that reminds us to slow down, be courteous, and to be kind.
In considering today’s Gospel reading, we ask what is Jesus saying to us here? We ask ourselves the same question Jesus asked his disciples, “Do you understand this?” “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure lying buried in the field.”
I believe from my reading that He saying the price of entrance into the Kingdom is of the highest cost and gives the greatest joy. The treasure is eternal life. He uses simple language to make His point. When I reflected and prayed about what Jesus is saying, I had to ask myself, what price I am willing to pay to enter the Kingdom? Would I sell all my earthly goods for entrance into heaven? Is it required that I do so? In my heart I have to admit I am not certain. Am I meant to write great works or become a saint? Perhaps that is not required. Maybe Jesus is saying something deeper: am I seeking and praying to do his will even when the cost is high?