Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5. 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
Saint John Baptist de la Salle July 30, 2023
Seventy years ago, I bought a small piece of land in Alaska. How small was it? Well, it was a twelve-inch square of land. It came with a deed, and it cost two dollars. It was my dream to someday move to Alaska and search for gold, perhaps not on my twelve-inch square of land, but in the vast wilderness of Alaska's streams and mountains. Of course, I did not move to Alaska, although I have visited there many times, because God prevented me from doing so. God appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, 'Ask something of me, and I will give it to you.' It's as easy as that. So, I bought a ticket to the Mega-Millions drawing, which I would not mind winning. Finding or winning a treasure of great price has always appealed to me.
But here is the thing: if you really want treasures, if you really want to be truly rich, make sure they are people. Riches gain interest, properties, and other valuables grow in value, but they are not alive. They are things that we can enjoy and act upon, but they cannot act back. We can give all we have got in life to obtain them, but they cannot touch our hearts. They cannot love us in return. I received a call from the hospice home in Dobson, saying that an elderly woman had been brought there from Virginia. She was dying; they asked if I could come. When I arrived, her only son, a man of about sixty, was there at his mother's side. Although his mother was not able to speak, I talked briefly with her son, who said to me, 'I really don't know what to say to her.'
It's alright. I told him there were 'special prayers' for those who were dying, and I would read them to his mom. 'Go forth, faithful Christian. In the name of God the Father who created you, in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you, in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you. May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in heaven, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.' When the prayer was finished, her son leaned over his mom, kissed her on her forehead and said through his tears: 'I have loved you more than my own life and will forever.' This is what we want to be able to say, what we should be able to say, to those we love. If you are working for those whom you love, all your efforts are well worth it. But do not work for them and then forget, or not have the time to be with them, because you yourself are their real treasure.
What we have, our possessions, cannot say or show us love. Only people can. Our possessions do not go to heaven, only people do. In today's Gospel, the pearl of great price is a person, it is Jesus. Jesus loved us into existence, loves us to death, and through all eternity. Every love we have on this earth comes to us as a gift from Jesus, and in Jesus, each of our loves is promised eternal life. 'For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many sisters and brothers.' We are never more human than when we give when we go out of ourselves toward others. We cannot give anything to our possessions, except, perhaps, our precious time. You can only give to people. And yes, there is one gift, a gift above all others, that we must share, a pearl of great price, Jesus the Christ.