Saint Stephen's Statue.

ST. STEPHEN'S

CATHOLIC CHURCH

 

12, Gbeto Street, Off Iwaya Road, Onike-Iwaya, Yaba-Lagos.
info@ststepheniwaya.org

Saint Stephen's Building.
 

 

THE WISDOM OF HIDDEN TREASURES

Wisdom Hidden TreasureIn our liturgy today, Jesus teaches that God’s Kingdom (the rule of God in us, accepting Jesus as our God and Savior and putting our Faith in him, doing His will), is something of extraordinary value, like a hidden treasure or costly pearl, and that its possession calls for total commitment. The Kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our society, and in our world. Only those who develop a searching mind and are willing to give up everything for the great treasure of God’s Kingdom will be rewarded.

Our first reading today is from the First Book of Kings.  In this passage, King Solomon asks for wisdom in order to be able to guide the people of his kingdom.  The surprise is that King Solomon does not ask for strength, or for riches, or for a good life for himself or for triumph over his enemies.  Instead, King Solomon seeks understanding to serve the people. In his request for this gift he prays in the following words: Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours? (I Kings 3:9). He asked only for understanding and God gave him additional gifts of wisdom, prosperity, victory, etc. Yes, this is how God answers prayers by giving us more than what we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Solomon must have been aware of Proverbs 3:5 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding.” We are a people constantly seeking for understanding. Solomon was very clear in his prayers about the kind of understanding he wanted: “An understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” Solomon wanted to serve God better in his people. The motivation behind his request was borne out of his recognition of his limitations and the enormity of the task that lay ahead. He knew full well that without the wisdom that comes from above he would not be capable of leading the people aright. Like St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil  4:13).

Wisdom gives us insight into what is truly important in life, an awareness of the meaning and purpose of living, of what really matters. Wisdom is an understanding of where our real well-being and happiness lie.  Wisdom is indeed the “pearl of great price," that Jesus speaks of. His request here invites us to cultivate his prayer for a heart and mind attuned to God's word and docile to His desires.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us that: “In everything, God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” That is, that God is leading us through the storms of life towards our home, and towards his kingdom. Carefully, He orders all the events of our lives in order to lead us there. This is what we call providence. Simply put, that God’s powerful hand is active in all the circumstances of our lives.

In today gospel account Jesus referred to the Kingdom as a treasure hidden in a field. Likewise, He spoke of the Kingdom as a precious pearl, a jewel found by a businessman who astutely sold everything he owned in order to buy it. He spoke, too, of the Kingdom as drag net filled with fish both good and bad.

At the time of Jesus, there were many stories about hidden treasures hidden in the fields. In the days of old, wars and invasions by foreign armies were fairly frequent, so people had to run for their safety. Before fleeing, they would bury their treasures and things they could not carry away with them in their fields, hoping to recover them once the danger was over. The owners often did not return any more, and their fields, after being uncultivated for years, were taken over by other people who did not know about the buried treasure. One day some passerby might notice some particular glitter and suspecting what it was, he would sell everything he possessed to buy that field. Imagine the reaction of a family who sees a neighbour selling off everything to buy a piece of land that apparently is just like any other piece of land. Won’t they think that this neighbour of theirs has gone mad?

Jesus says that one who has discovered the kingdom of God has discovered a treasure. Such a person might be seen as one who has gone mad by some people even family members and friends. Such a person is willing to give his or her time, money, and life just to possess the kingdom of God. In the Gospel narrative, the man who found the buried treasure in a field sold everything he had in order to buy that field. The merchant who found the pearl of great price sold everything in order to buy it. Jesus is talking about the priceless value of heaven that one can readily sacrifice everything just to possess it. Can we let go of our valued possessions in favor of heaven? Are we willing to invest all our hard-earned savings of a lifetime on the Lord’s promise of eternal glory in heaven?

Has our life, our way of thinking and talking been transformed since we found Jesus Christ? What did we really give up to find or meet Jesus? What are the things that we give most time to in life? As Christians, do we still see fellow Christians who are making efforts to unite their lives with the Lord as people without sense or stupid people? Following Jesus requires certain life changing decisions. Jesus once told his followers “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?…(Matthew 16:25-26).

Jesus says, one who discovers the love of God sells everything to cling to the newfound treasure. When we discover the kingdom of God we receive the greatest possible treasure - the Lord himself. Selling all that we have to obtain this incomparable treasure could mean many things - our friends, job, our "style of life", what we do with our free time. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. In this parable what does the treasure of the kingdom refer to? It certainly refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects. But in a special way, the Lord himself is the treasure we seek for. If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty (Job 22:22- 23). Is the Lord the treasure and delight of your heart?

The third parable tells us about the drag net. Just as a drag net collects good and bad fish indiscriminately, so the Church is a mixture of all kinds of people, good and bad, useless and useful, saints and sinners.  Like the wheat and weeds parable, this parable is a warning against premature judgment, but also a warning which tells us judgment will take place. This parable encourages the Church to adopt an open approach to evangelism, by accepting "the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame" (Luke 14:21) and by leading them to the treasure and the pearl of great price. It instructs us to be tolerant, compassionate and understanding of those who seem to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom. The parable also teaches that a time of separation will come when the good and the bad will be sent to their respective destinies.

Let us always remember that Heaven is within the reach of all of us who try to do the will of God, following the ordinary vocations of life and enjoying this world's joys and pleasures within the framework of God's Commandments. Right now, it is for us to use the time given to us to go in search of the pearl of great price and to help others in their search. We are challenged to search and discern where the Lord is calling us so that we may know what path to take.

Prayer – May the Lord bless us with the gift of wisdom and understanding so that we can treasure that which accords with your will, and so make heaven in the end. Amen!

 

Calendar

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