[17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, July 27, 2014. 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12 / Ps 119:57+72, 76-77, 127-28, 129-30 / Rom 8:28-30 / Matt 13:44-52]
Once the BBC news reported a spectacular find of treasure. What was discovered was an intact Roman bronze helmet, one of only three ever unearthed like it. It would have been used as a ceremonial mask in the circus and games. The famous auction house Christie’s sold it for 2.3 million pounds (more than P150 million!) It really was a rare find.
Sometimes in the UK you hear stories of treasure hunters making spectacular finds with their metal detectors. Beep, beep, beep…BEEEEEEPPPPPPPP! Bingo! The metal detector helps them find the treasure.
In some ways our hearts have a capacity to detect treasure. They can easily latch on to things that will bring enjoyment. We can fall in love with Scrabble, chess, skydiving, knitting, origami and a host of other pastimes. The heart can fall in love with objects of all shapes and sizes! Thankfully our hearts can be guided by reason too. I have met businessmen in love with pistol shooting and longing to buy a $5,000 dollar target pistol, businesswomen in love with Korean soap operas and a college student in love with computer games (18 hours a day!) Sometimes our hearts are not too picky and need to be educated.
In the first reading today we hear of the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12). I first heard of the “wisdom of Solomon” from my dad. One day I was fighting with my twin brother over the chocolate cake and who would get the biggest piece. The solution of my father? One could cut, but the other would choose. Perhaps that is where I first started to learn how to cut with surgical precision! I knew that if I did not cut the cake exactly in half my twin would choose the bigger piece and I would lose out. It was then my father said “See, your dad has been given the wisdom of Solomon!”
What was the real reason for the wisdom of Solomon? God speaks to King Solomon and tells him to ask for whatever he wants. Solomon, being wise, does not ask for a target pistol, a new computer game or a DVD of Korean soap operas. Instead he prayed, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” God was very pleased with this and gave a heart so wise and understanding like none ever before.
What can guide our hearts to make good choices? Sometimes they need guidance. How lucky we are to have the gospel and the Word of God, to be a light for our path and a lamp for our feet (and intellect!) The Word lights up and shows us the way. It purifies our intentions and we are indeed “made clean by the Word” (John 15:3). Pope Paul VI reminded us that the Gospel must affect and upset “mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation”(Evangelii nuntiandi, #19). That is why the psalmist today pronounces: “the Law of your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces . . . I love your commands . . . wonderful are your decrees . . . the revelation of your word sheds light, giving understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119).
We are so lucky to have the gift of the Gospel and the Word of God!!! It is like a metal detector which can point us towards the real treasure. But we have to listen to it and put it into practice. Sometimes we struggle to know exactly where the Lord is leading us and sometimes he leads us by ways unknown. It is good to experiment sometimes. Our hearts are generally well made—“fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and where your heart is your treasure will be.
In the gospel Jesus compares the Kingdom of heaven to a merchant finding a fine pearl and a man finding treasure (Matthew 13:44-52). What moved them to search? Certainly one huge motor is prayer itself. Listening to the Word of God gives an incredible dynamism to a person. Otherwise the tendency is to stagnate or to have a following that is static. But as Christians, Jesus says, “Follow me,” and he is moving. We need to have as our theme song “I like to move it, move it! I like to move it, move it!” When the man finds the treasure, out of joy he goes and sells all. When one really discovers the treasure, things like target pistols, Korean soap operas and computer games lose their taste – although a bit of chocolate cake is still fine!
Am I following Jesus and making options for him out of joy or because “I have to”? How wonderful, praying with the Word of God, being guided towards the treasure and enjoying the quest and discovery more and more. It puts you in a real dynamism to keep running the race.
Let us be wise like Solomon and ask for a wise heart, one that is capable of recognizing the real treasure. Remember that all that glitters is not gold but if we listen in sincerity and truth our hearts, which are well made, our genuine desires can lead us towards the love of God and guide us towards Jesus, the true treasure of our hearts. Amen.