This Sunday is the 17th Sunday in ordinary time. The readings for this Sunday teach us that accepting Jesus as our God and Savior and sacrificing everything in life to do the will of God and to be in His kingdom are more than discovering and possessing the most valuable treasure or a pearl of great price. In other words, developing a personal relationship with Christ and sharing His way of life are the most beautiful, most precious things in the world. This must be the focus of every disciple of Christ.
The first reading describes how the young King Solomon opted for the great treasure of accepting God to rule his life by doing His will. Recognizing the significance of his choice, Solomon requested that God grant him “an understanding heart,” to distinguish right from wrong, so that he might govern his people with justice and fairness. Yahweh was pleased with Solomon’s request and granted him a wise and discerning heart that enabled him to surpass everyone in wisdom. In this reading, Solomon recognizes two things: that wisdom ultimately comes from God, and with wisdom, if one uses it wisely, all other blessings will flow. Using the language we find in the Gospel reading, we could say that Solomon asked for a “treasure” or a “pearl of great price” and he got it.
In the second reading, Paul teaches that the wisdom to perceive God’s grace is essential for those who want to follow Him and do His will, thus remaining in His Kingdom. He assures the Christian community that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose and those He predestined He also called; and those He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified.” The first statement means that all things somehow work together for good for those who love God. It is the “Kingdom of God” when we know that there is absolutely nothing in this world or out of it that can separate us from Christ’s love for us. If we are following in the footsteps of Christ, they will lead us to the Kingdom of God.
In the Gospel, using three short but powerful parables, Jesus teaches us that God’s Kingdom — the rule of God in us, accepting Jesus as our God and Savior, putting our Faith in Him and doing His will — is something of extraordinary value, like a hidden treasure or a costly pearl, and that possessing it calls for a total commitment to preserving it. 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 possess it, will understand and appreciate it as the greatest treasure. Through the first and second parables of the treasure and pearl, Jesus teaches us that identifying God’s will and living according to the Gospel are the most precious and worthwhile things in life.
However, human nature is such that, most of the time, we are in search of false treasures such as money, social status, worldly pleasures, and other material things. These worldly treasures are temporary, aptly compared in Hinduism to the morning dew, appearing and gladdening people’s hearts, but soon disappearing. The treasure of a relationship with God is different; no one can take it away, and no moth can destroy it. The valuable treasure is sharing in God’s life through Jesus here on earth and later in Heaven, for all eternity; that must be the goal for everyone.
How do we attain and preserve the most valuable treasure? We will be able to preserve the treasure of our personal relationship with Jesus by accepting Him every day as our God and Savior, by allowing Him to have total control of our lives through our loving obedience to His will, by asking Him daily for the strength and guidance of His Holy Spirit, by talking and listening to Him daily in prayer, by getting reconciled to Him and others every day, asking pardon and forgiveness for our sins, by offering Him our lives on the altar during the Holy Mass and by nourishing our souls frequently by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. As a Catholic and priest, I am so pleased to identify this treasure in the Sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist. It is the greatest gift that Jesus offers to us, His disciples, and I invite you to grow in faith and love for the Eucharist and deepen your relationship with Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.
On another note, I am pleased to announce that this weekend 14 of our high school youth will be attending Steubenville Conference at the University of San Diego. It will be a moment of great encounter with God and spiritual awaking for our children. Last year, I was there to hear confession and participated in Adoration. I am looking forward to joining them again this year. Please keep our children and the entire conference in your prayers so that they may have a personal and deeper experience of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the most valuable treasure.