A treasure to behold

What treasure do you seek? What treasure have you found? This weekend’s Gospel speaks to us of what Heaven represents, and why we need to seek it out, and once we find it — cherish it and do all we can to hold on to it. 

Yet, like any treasure worth its weight, it requires sacrifice and effort, not only to locate it, but to possess it as one’s own. Anyone who watches programming such as the History Channel or National Geographic fully understands the stakes involved in preparing the trek, reaching the site, and then doing the labor-intensive work of digging it up. For historians, archeologists and treasure-hunters, alike, they will all tell you that the blood, sweat, and tears are well worth it when they catch a glimpse of the sought-after prize. Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of Heaven is no different, and that we must do all we can to acquire this treasure. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into this parable, and try to really understand what Jesus is conveying. Like most treasure-seekers, the vision can quickly become narrowed and overly focused on the prize, leaving little room for anything else in one’s life. Yet, don’t we want to be narrow-minded when it comes to achieving a place in Heaven? Yes and no! 

Yes, we want to focus on getting to the desired location, but we must remember that going it alone makes it a solitary and arduous journey, and without willing companions, we may find it difficult to uncover what lies ahead. 

Ultimately, it asks the question as to what the treasure means to us, because the answer speaks to where one’s heart is. If one is focused on worldly possessions, then the promise of Heaven is but a faint one. 

In Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 we are reminded that, “no one can serve two masters, they will love one and hate the other.” This parable reminds us that we have the ultimate choice, and what we focus on can bring us great joy or leaving us lacking in many ways. Our decision is the definitive cost of discipleship, giving of ourselves in every sense of the word, to acquire the most precious of treasures. In the parable, we see how those who found the treasure, quickly gave up all they had to obtain it, realizing it was worth far more than what they already owned.

But what if we are the “treasure” and Jesus has already paid the price in order to claim us as His own. After all He is the One telling the story here, and maybe He is letting us know that He has willingly paid the price — even unto death — in order to make sure that we are His. From this angle, we have much more work to do in order to be the disciples Christ is asking us to be. He has raised the bar and is asking us to step up to the plate, and go beyond His expectations. We are instructed to live our lives in such a way, that we continually increase His treasures. 

Whichever way one chooses to interpret this parable, it speaks of a great discovery, which can be extremely difficult to keep under wraps for too long. And the joy in finding the treasure begs to be shared. For us, it is finding the treasure of being treasured. Like a child who truly knows he or she is loved, who blooms in unbelievable and extraordinary ways, we too hold the treasure of being loved without measure. A knowledge that needs to be given away, a knowledge that leads us to the treasure within. 

In a story I heard recently, an old man discovered a great treasure, and instead of keeping it all to himself, he chose to share it with others, providing for not only himself, but for countless others even years after he was gone. As disciples, we are sent forth to share the joy and riches, bearing the Good News of love, hope and mercy that Jesus so readily demonstrated for us upon the cross. In doing so, we consistently multiply the value of the treasure by adding to the numbers He holds dear. 

We must remember that we are not asked to pass judgment or be selective, we are simply asked to bring everyone to the joy of knowing the Father and the Son. The “angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous,” our goal is to limit the numbers of those being cast out. We must consider that sometimes those who seem unworthy or undesirable, can become the “priceless pearls,” whereas, the paragons of virtue, can become the wicked (eventually the choice is theirs alone). We must do what is required of us to become and remain “priceless pearls” in the eyes of God, a treasure to behold; shining examples of what it truly means to be a beloved child of God. The greatest reward of discipleship.

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva is Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. 


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