Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: “Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all he has and buys that field.’” (Matthew 13:44)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday July 26 2020
Some years back, the Associated Press reported the story of an elderly woman in Zurich, Switzerland who became virtually invisible to the most sophisticated surveillance equipment. The story reads:
“An 85-year-old woman was found in the vault of a Swiss bank when she set off motion detectors hours after the bank was already closed. Employees at the [bank] apparently forgot about the woman. The director of the bank’s safe allowed the woman into the vault before closing it punctually at 4:30 PM with the woman still deep in study of her documents. She remained so still that she initially failed to activate either the motion detector or the attached camera. She was freed from the room four hours after the vault was closed.”
Entombed with a treasure, that’s what she was! And while no harm came to the woman, the story of her imprisonment within a bank vault full of loot does cause us to reflect on our relationship to our own material treasure, whatever it may be. While few of us possess the wealth of a Swiss bank vault, we all have personal treasures that we hold fast to our hearts. And while there’s surely nothing wrong with that, we do risk finding ourselves in the same position as that 85-year-old woman, locked away with our treasure in a suffocating vault. Indeed, treasured possessions are dangerous things; they have the potential to kill.
It seems to me that the particular challenge for us Americans is to possess without being possessed. We live and work in a culture ever more reliant on those things that enable us to move from day to day, from here to there, from one task to another. Realistically, one cannot live today without what, in a former day, were thought superfluous but today are simply essential. We possess lots of stuff. God save us, though, from being possessed, held prisoner by all those things that make life work. God save us from being entombed by our treasures.
In the gospel passage we hear today, Jesus invites us to dig for treasure, to look beyond those many things that make life comfortable, to discover our truest treasure. “Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all he has and buys that field.’” (Matthew 13:44)
While heaven is something to which we can only now aspire, so it is with the recognition of true treasure. Because we are frail mortals, our vision is imperfect, and what may seem a treasure is really just glittering bauble. True treasure, as Jesus reminds us, is often right at our feet, buried under the ordinariness of our daily lives. Yet we continue to look far and wide for that which is so very near!
This day Jesus bids us look deep into the ordinariness of our lives for the truest treasure. He invites our vision toward the very dust beneath our feet, where, with some kicking and scraping, we might discover what’s been there all along—faith: anchor for our earthly life and the promise of heavenly life in a day to come.