The Greatest Treasure
Reflection on Mt. 13:44-46
Simon and Andrew are on the edge of the sea, after a night of fishing. Up to his knees in water, Andrew bends over a net, washing out the debris. He glances up for a moment and notices a man walking towards them along the shore. “Here He comes, Simon. Do you think He’ll stop and talk with us?”
Throwing a net back into the boat, Peter answers. “I don’t know. Somehow I don’t think we can predict what Jesus will do.”
“I cannot stop thinking about staying with Him, there by the Jordan. All day we were with Him.”
“You know, I haven’t said it, but I’ve been like that too, ever since you brought me to Him. Remember how exciting it all was? ‘We have found the Messiah,’ you told me.”
“Since then, all I have wanted is to be with Him again.”
“‘You shall be called Cephas,’ He said to me. I don’t understand what He meant, but I’m constantly remembering His words. And the way He looked at me. As if He knew me. I mean knew me. I would like to see Him again, to hear Him speak.”
“I know,” Andrew replies. “Look, He’s coming over to us.”
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a man finds and hides again…
Jesus approaches Peter and Andrew and they talk for a few minutes…about how they are, what they have been doing, the catch of the night, and other ordinary things. And then He extends the invitation their hearts have been longing for: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19).
The brothers’ hearts leap for joy, and they immediately respond. “At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Mt. 4:20).
…and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
* * *
A young man rides off to war, clad in the fines armor. Although he is wealthy, well-liked and well-known in his town, all this is not enough. He is searching for honor, for fame, for glory. But on the way to battle he has a dream that changes everything. One night the Lord speaks to him: “Francis, who can do more for you, a lord or a servant, a rich man or one who is poor?”
“A lord and a rich man.”
“Why, then, are you abandoning the Lord for a servant and the rich God for a poor mortal?”
“Lord, what do you want me to do?”
“Go back to your own land….”
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
Francis returns to Assisi, looking like a deserter, scorned and ridiculed by his fellow townspeople. This does not shake him, for he is busy listening to the Lord, waiting upon Him, searching for His will. After some time and much prayer, Francis realizes his call to leave everything of the world behind and follow Jesus alone. From now on, God will be his only treasure.
When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
* * *
The saints challenge us to take Jesus’ words seriously. Is it worth giving up everything in order to follow Jesus? Could God ask all of me? St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Francis and all the saints would answer with an emphatic “yes!” In fact, their lives, entirely given over to Christ, affirm that nothing in this world outweighs the Kingdom of God; nothing is more valuable than belonging to Jesus, being coheirs with Him in His Kingdom, sons and daughters of His Father, sharing in His Spirit. He is worthy of the gift of my entire life, my whole being. All that I am and all that I have are miniscule compared to God Himself. And yet, He wants me as His own. He values each one of us (as if we are so many precious pearls!) and longs for our free, loving gift of self back to Him—our very Creator Who gave us free will so that we could have the capacity to truly love Him and choose Him in love.
Now, God does not call every person to leave home behind as the Apostles did or to give up all material possessions like St. Francis. But He does ask each one of us to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37, 39). That is: every Christian, every disciple is to make a total gift of self to the Lord, in one’s own vocation. This is the work of a lifetime, as we surrender ourselves more and more to God. But as St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Francis and every saint could tell us: God is worth it, for He is the greatest treasure of all.
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR