17th Sunday “A” homily A TREASURE sought after

  1. 1 Kgs. 3:5-12; Rom. 8:28-30; Mt. 13:44-52 ’

We come back to the big parable chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel for a third Sunday-in-a-row. Today in it’s part it asks: What do you treasure? Or, really, Who do you treasure?  Is it God? Does your life show that to be true, or mostly true? Or does it point to something/someone else?

I will lead off with an example of my seeing someone practice this Scripture out.  A Catholic man in Midwest America lovingly and romantically treasured a local Catholic woman, here in Silver Spring.  They began a long distance relationship. She was settled in a great, unique job in DC, while he had a nice job out there, but one which could likewise be found here.  He treasured her and desired a marriage with her, so much so, that he moved here to her to help it work out.  She treasured him, too, but it involved much sacrifice on his part to make it happen.  It was liked the parables of Jesus–he was willing to give up much so to gain her.  I witnessed their wedding in 2005 and they are still happily married a dozen years now, as bright as a dozen-rose bouquet.

Their hidden treasure found is their relationship sewn and ‘ unearthed’ together.

Jesus gave parables about treasure seeking, such as in today’s Sunday one. People have been searching for hidden treasures for centuries, so He knows an appealing approach for His teachings. ‘Seek a treasure in Me,’ He says here.

One of the big treasure stories of the Americas comes from the 16th and 17th centuries, when arriving Europeans believed that somewhere in the New World there was a place of immense wealth known as “El Dorado.” Their searches for this treasure wasted countless lives. The origins of “El Dorado” lie deep in South America. And like all enduring legends, the tale of it contains some scraps of truth. When Spanish explorers reached South America, they heard stories about a tribe of natives high in the Andes Mountains in what is now Colombia. When a new chieftain rose to power, his rule began with a ceremony at Lake Guatavita. Accounts of the ceremony vary, but they consistently heard about how the new ruler was said to be covered with gold dust, and that gold and precious jewels were thrown into the lake to appease a god that lived underwater. The Spaniards started calling this golden chief “El Dorado,” meaning “the gilded one.” The ceremony of the gilded man supposedly ended in the late 15th century when El Dorado and his subjects were conquered by another tribe ( just prior to the Spaniards’ coming).  

The Spaniards and other Europeans had found gold among the natives along the continent’s northern coast, but they believed there had to be a place of very great wealth somewhere in the interior. The Spaniards didn’t find El Dorado, but they did find Lake Guatavita and tried to drain it in 1545. They lowered its level enough to find hundreds of pieces of gold along the lake’s edge. But the presumed fabulous treasure in the deeper water was beyond their reach.

Jesus is speaking a lesson of a treasure that IS within our reach.   It’s the Kingdom of God.   Matthew chapter 13 has Him telling many parables about it, as He relates stories of a treasure hidden in a field, and one underwater, and so forth.

It was not, and still is not today, surprising for Jesus to compare the soul’s search to such stories of people looking for treasure and/or finding hidden treasure.  People are frequently seeking a big find or big score.  I was in baseball’s Fenway Park on Friday, and, besides the ballgame, much interest lay in who’d win the 50/50 raffle in the park, to award its winner $15,000-$25,000 on a $5 ticket.  One lucky fan walked away with that treasure. It wasn’t me!

In ancient times, treasures weren’t raffles, lotteries, stocks and investments, or gambles, but in treasures found left in the earth or sunk in the sea.

Jesus teaches that humankind has a soul in our bodies which had been made to hold a treasure–an abiding link up of a sharing friendship with God. That’s THE treasure to seek out the most.  He taught how sin broke that friendship and it caused the loss of something far greater than gold, but of an eternal relationship of humanity with God. But it can be reclaimed!  Praise God that in Jesus it can!

God knows we’ve been seeking to fill that void and inner need and treasure for our heart and soul ever since.  Yet we’ve turned to idols and false pleasures and vain pursuits, rather than to seek Him.

Jesus used the parable account method to reach the seekers for the true answer and fulfillment of their most inner longings.  He used to describe the Kingdom of God, as hence:  “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that is hidden in a field that someone found.”

You and I walk now amid the fields of the Lord where the treasure of relationship with Him can be found, and other related treasures of the Kingdom-come life.  We don’t need to climb the Andes or hunt the deep Amazon or go far and wide to find it.

Jesus says “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” and ” the Kingdom is within you ( who believe).”

Just to take it another notch or three…   with Matthew 13.  The lesson in this parable section is, first, that we all have it built within us to seek something great and special for our lives, for our souls cry for it.   Only a seeker will do the finding, and one who realizes that it is a search for something mostly hidden from natural sight.  You gotta play to win, or in our case, you gotta pray to win!

A second lesson of the parable is that the man found the precious thing, not so much by chance, but as in and through his day’s work. The man stumbled all unexpectedly upon it, but he did so when he was going about his daily business. So, Jesus tells His hearers that the Kingdom of God is to be found while doing the daily routine of our life with efficiency and diligence. ( It’s not like we have to go to the Andes to find it.) God will put it right in our pathway!  It can even be found in an everyday routine by someone who has a searching eye open for heavenly treasure. When Jesus called His disciples they were all engaged in their work. Peter was fishing with Andrew, when Jesus called them. Levi, aka Mathew,  was at the tax collection booth when he was called. Jesus saw all the 12 men at work, ( later apostles,) and picked them up to be his followers. In the saints stories, too, Mary Magdalene was getting the daily water supply at the well, working, when Jesus came by, and met and talked with her, to show her The Living Water.

It was the same with the saints. Francis of Assisi was with the group of crusaders when he was called to accept the new responsibility. He kind of stumbled upon his blessing. Francis Xavier was engaged in his daily routine when the call of Jesus came to him through Ignatius Loyola. Catherine Laboure was a boarding student in school, just stopping in the chapel for a quick prayer, when God sent her an apparition of Jesus’ Blessed Mother.  Isidore was a farm laborer near Madrid, Spain, when many marvelous spiritual happenings accompanied his field work. OK. I think you get that point.  The treasure can be found in everyday routine, so keep an eye open for it.

God will give the treasure of Himself to those who seek Him, rather than will the elusive El Dorado gold ever satisfy.

In closing, the more obvious application of the parables today is what I led off with– that it is a worthy thing to make any sacrifice necessary to reach the treasure you want, especially if it is a holy love sought after.   The conviction to give up the lesser to gain the greater is worth it, when God is in the desire.

He is the treasure offered back to us.

Are you pursuing the right treasure?       


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