Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Don't Miss the Flower Show”
Matthew 13: 44-52
By Rev. Jack R. Miller
A teenager lost a contact lens while playing basketball in the driveway. After a brief, fruitless search, he gave up. But his mother took up the cause and within minutes found the lens.
"How did you do that?" he asked.
"We weren't looking for the same thing," she explained. "You were looking for a small piece of plastic. I was looking for $300."
The mother understood the true value of her son’s contact lens, and our search for the Gospel "treasure" and "pearl" begins with the same concept. First, we must understand the real value of what we are searching for, and second, we must understand the investment of time and energy required to find what we are searching for. In asking the Lord for wisdom and "an understanding heart" in our first reading, Solomon shows us that the real "treasures" and "pearls" of lasting value are not made of plastic, or silver or gold for that matter, they are the things of God: the love of family and friends, the support found in being part of a community, the sense of joy and fulfillment found in serving and giving for the sake of others. The Gospel “pearl” of great price is having grace that transcends logic, efficiency, and self-interest; grace that sees beyond the currency of the earth to gain the riches of God: love, justice, mercy, and peace. The Gospel “treasure” is the joy and wholeness one experiences in imitating the humble compassion and forgiveness of Christ.
Both of Jesus' parables in today's reading are about seeking, and the hard work required if we are to possess the "treasure" we discover. In the end, that which is easy is not usually worth the time, and things that are cheap, eventually reveal their real worth. But treasures of real value, treasures that gives our lives purpose and meaning, requires commitment, humility and sacrifice. Today's parables challenge us to focus on the things of God and not be caught up with the things of this world. True wisdom begins with tirelessly seeking such treasures that our lives may be enriched and our hearts filled with joy.
In today's Gospel, both men found treasure by seizing the moment for a fresh life when it came. Both were willing to gamble with the new cards they were dealt. And so, must we.
The American poet James Lowell wrote, "once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide." There comes a time in everyone's life when we must decide whether to be consumed by the kingdom of earth, or to embrace the promised Kingdom of God. It's never too late to make that choice. Jane Fonda, the famous actress, made her decision shortly before she divorced Ted Turner. She was 63 at the time. When she was criticized by people and the press for finding Christ so late in life she simply replied, "It doesn't matter if you're a late bloomer as long as you don't miss the flower show." She reminded her friends that while “catfish cannot become a swordfish,” we can leave our miserable selves behind, even when we're old, and become a new person in Christ.
Texas preacher and author Max Lucado puts it this way, "God loves us just the way we are, but refuses to leave us that way. God wants us to become just like Jesus. God wants us to become treasures." The Kingdom of God on earth it seems, is more of a verb than a noun. God expects us to be active treasures, not stagnant boxes buried in the ground. We cannot be an observer in following Christ, he expects us to participate. So, let's become a spiritual and material treasure for others starting today. Let us begin right now to, as Jane Fonda put it, "question everything we do in the light of what Christ would have done." If we can do that, I'm pretty sure we won't miss the flower show.