Recognizing the treasure

The people of Jesus’ time would have understood the parables of this Sunday very easily. They were drawn from scenes of everyday life. This is how Jesus taught the message of the Kingdom. The story of the hidden treasure would be familiar to those whose parents lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Banks were not to be trusted, so what little money families had were withdrawn from the bank and hidden in the house or buried in the back yard.

Stumbling on treasure

A true story: In 1947 a Bedouin boy shepherd called Muhammad the Wolf was shepherding his goats on the western shore of the Dead Sea; at Qumran. One of his goats strayed and Muhammad had to climb a steep cliff to find him. As he was passing a cave the boy threw a stone inside it. He heard something break, so frightened he run back to get his friend. Together they entered the cave and found several large clay jars. Inside the jars wrapped in a length of linen was one of the greatest modern archaeological discoveries: the Dead Sea Scrolls. They didn’t realize what they had found. They tried to sell the scrolls in Bethlehem for twenty pounds. The merchant didn’t recognize the treasure and refused to buy. It wasn’t until four scrolls came into the hand of the Syrian (Orthodox) patriarch in Jerusalem and three scrolls were smuggled to the USA that the treasure trove came to light. The ancient manuscripts of scripture and Jewish writings were carbon dated to the median age of 33AD. They were written at a time when only a few miles away Jesus was telling to-day’s parable. Muhammad had not recognized the treasure.

We have to recognize the treasure. In both parables the men appreciate the true value of what they have discovered. Both are certain about what they must do; for them, the folly would be in passing by the main chance. The first two parables remind us that what we treasure, what we regard as important, we should nurture and put in a safe place. We are being asked by Jesus if we perceive the kingdom of God in the same way: do we see it as a treasure that is worth everything that we value in life.

What it means to us

The current pandemic is a wake-up call to rediscover what we treasure. (We miss being able to join in with the celebration of the Eucharist.) Jesus by his life and death gave witness on what is important. Through Jesus we come to know and understand what the most important things in life are. If the message of Jesus is our treasure, then how do we give witness to this to-day?

In recent times there has been the growth of a living skill called MINDFULNESS, (it has been part of our parish primary school program.) Mindfulness can be described as the practice of paying attention in the present moment, doing it intentionally and with non-judgment. It focusses on the present, paying attention to what we are doing, whether eating, walking, meditating or relating to others. An essential skill during our current stage 3 restrictions.

So how do we cope?

Firstly we need to focus on the present – the message of Jesus, the message that each one of us is important. Everyone is to be treasured. The treasure that Jesus shared with us can be summed up in one word – LOVE. Love that is meaningful, it involves love of self and love of others. It is self-giving. So our treasure is love God and love our neighbour.

How do we demonstrate our knowledge of our treasure? Focussing on the present, being mindful, we
• Pray
• Take good care of ourselves
• Take good care of our families
• Take good care of our neighbours
• Take good care of each other in this church
• Be a Christian disciple, a missionary, not a Christian consumer
• Spread the treasure of the Gospels by our lives

Remember the words of the dismissal at Mass: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by our lives.” Let us glorify the Lord by treasuring the present and those we share it with.

Deacon Kevin Pattison

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