[Homily based on 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Mt. 13: 44-46]
The Gospel today is about your treasure. Where is your treasure? And how much will you give to attain your treasure?
For your treasure, what would you be willing to sacrifice? Of you many belongings, what would you sell to acquire it? All you own? If it is really your treasure, it stands to reason that your answer would be yes. All that I own, all that I have, I would sell in order to attain my treasure.
For your pearl of great price, would you be willing to sell all you have to acquire it? Would you be willing to sell your soul?
So where is your treasure?
Say, you are an entrepreneur. Your treasure is in creating wealth, making investments grow, pushing sales, taking care of your people.
Or, you are a mother. Plotting and scheming to provide your children the good life occupies you. Dreams of a successful child are your treasure: a child talented, disciplined, educated, accomplished – without your having overpowered the child.
Say, you are a formerly powerful and influential person now imprisoned for a crime. You do not like prison. You have felt regret, even remorse. You have silently wept. Even when there was no media to record and broadcast the tears, you wept. Where is your treasure now? To prove that you are not guilty because your are in fact not guilty? To prove that you are not guilty because in fact you are…? To mitigate the consequences of your guilt. Your rehabilitation in stature and reputation as a public figure – whatever the truth? Your rehabilitation of yourself and your self respect – in your acceptance of the truth, whatever the truth is?
Where is your treasure?
Say, you are the President of the Philippines. Charged with the service of the people. But where the Supreme Court has declared some of your actions unconstitutional. To prove that you are right, no matter what the Supreme Court says; if necessary, to prove the Supreme Court wrong, no matter the cost to your ability to fulfill your mandate as President of the Philippines? Or, to accept your admonition from the Supreme Court, despite the fact that you disagree, in order to protect your ability to serve the Filipino people?
What is this treasure? What are you willing to pay for this treasure? Sometimes your treasure is completely self-centered. For my ego. For my welfare.
But Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God, not your kingdom. “The Kingdom is heaven is like a treasure buried in the field….” (Ma 13:44).
Jesus is also not just talking about a kingdom in another life, heaven, on the other side of death.
Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God as being incarnated here on earth, as he incarnated his Father’s Word of Love for humankind (cf. John 1:14). The Kingdom of God cannot be postposed if the love of God is real, and has already been proclaimed to people in this world. The Kingdom of God as it must be realized today for real people must include the people of Gaza and the people of Israel and the families of some 1000 people killed in the past 10 days, the victims of the attack on MH 17, the victims of poverty and violence in the Philippines, victims of deception, betrayal, substandard housing, unjust salaries, and people in the world today holding positions of influence and power making the wrong decisions.
The Kingdom of God is pure, undeserved gift; yet, paradoxically, it is also the calculated result of particular people who work wide-eyed and hard for social justice, otherwise known as the common good. These people seek to bring human structures together like laws, rules, culture, customs, the ways people provide for their physical and human needs, the ways people think, and the manner in which they live their rationality, the ways of people’s worship God, and the manner in which their relationship to God is lived, so that everyone in society may flourish, each pursuing goods complementary to the goods that others pursue. In the pursuit of social justice or the common good, everyone has good chances for success and happiness: membership in nurturing families, in humane communities, in the human family, globally one in celebrated diversity; everyone has access to basic education and rewarding jobs; everyone who wishes has access to higher education and a fruitful source of livelihood.
We often mention social justice. But we discuss it too infrequently, and understand it rarely. But it is unto the achievement of social justice that we need educated, Christian leaders – so that in our pursuit of rationality we do not think we can cease worshipping God, or so that in pursuit of religion, we do not think we can blow up people and the heritage of thousands of years of civilization. For the achievement of the Kingdom of God or the common good, even as it is itself a gift of God’s grace, wisdom is needed. There are no standard formulae for the common good: like, fidelity to the laws of the land and the Constitution achieves the common good, going to Mass on Sunday and regular prayer achieves social justice; making your business and all businesses work achieves social justice. Our history is heavy laden with examples of searing immorality as laws are kept, or chilling inhumanity as God is worshipped, or of large segments of humanity trapped in poverty as some make it to wealth. That is why Solomon’s prayer, the prayer of a social leader, is so important in this contest. Not the prayer for wealth, nor for a long life, nor for the death of his enemies, but the prayer for wisdom: “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong” (1 Kings 3:9). This was his prayer. He prayed for it. God granted it.
For what do we pray? Where is our treasure? If it is less than the will of God, it is probably not a treasure, but an illusion, mirage, or deception…
If it is the will of God, it has possibly something to do with Kingdom of God or the common good or social justice.
If it is God’s will as the common good or social justice, your personal call “to hunger and thirst for justice” (Mt. 5:6), are you willing to pay the price? What are your willing to sacrifice for your treasure?