Holy Wisdom, 1170s Hildesheim, Germany, artist unknown, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field…..” Matthew 13:44.
Words and phrases highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
Jesus often begins a lesson on holiness with the words “The kingdom of heaven is like….” as he does in today’s gospel. We are so used to hearing that, that it might simply pass over our heads as a simple intro. But look at the words. It answers the question “what is the kingdom of heaven like?” And here is the answer. If we find a treasure, we should do all we can to possess it. Now we are not talking about detectorists here, the new name for those people who scan fields with metal detectors hoping to find, literally, buried treasure. There are thousands of them in Great Britain, and indeed occasionally they do unearth fantastic treasures. No, Jesus I think, has other endeavors in mind. He is, I believe, talking about the divine treasures given to each of us, the gifts given to every one of us by God. Some of us have more, some less; some are very rare, some not, but they are all the means by which God wishes us to navigate through life in obedience to his will. If we are doing that, according to Jesus’ words today, in some sense we have the kingdom of God with us here and now. No wonder, in the parable, the one who discovers such a treasure does everything possible to gain ownership; translation: develop this treasure into a skill which will power you through life in obedience to God’s will. To each of us, legitimate pride in such a gift of God developed into a splendid skill is a very satisfying navigator through life. I am reminded of the superintendent in my apartment building. If I have a plumbing problem which to me seems an insuperable challenge almost to the level of panic, he comes by and fixes it as if he has a magic wand! In his turn, he looks at me doing something like this webpage, and is in awe. Such are God’s wonderful gifts as they play out in life, and we all have gifts. In the longer gospel today, they are a treasure buried in a field, a pearl of great price, a great catch of fish, all meaning, I believe, the discovery of our own talents and the inherent joy of developing them and using them as God wishes of us is the true recipe for a happy life leading to eternal bliss. Solomon in the first reading asks for wisdom, but taking Jesus’ words today, I suspect he already has that talent, and God gently reveals the truth him as good news! The result is to be found in the second reading. Doing what is required of us justifies us in our proper and good use of our skills. Paul tells us we will be judged on what we have done to please the Lord, a message Jesus spells out in the gospel, referring to the Last Judgement.
So today’s readings are a call back to basics. Are we using our skills in an appropriate and acceptable way? If we are called from this life today, could we humbly offer our life history to God in the knowledge we have done our best to obey the call to be our best in this life? If so, wonderful. If not…. well, use the time left to do something about it!
The Last Judgement, Pacheco, Goya Museum, Castres, France.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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