The majority of folks go to Las Vegas to win. Nobody wants to lose. Yet, the majority lose. That’s what keeps all the lights on. There are only a few winners. The Kingdom of heaven is not like Las Vegas. In the Kingdom of heaven, we are all winners.
We all want to find the buried treasure, the pearl of great price, the good fish—Like in the movies: “Treasure Island”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “National Treasure”—they are all movies about a nobody becoming somebody. We can identify, especially if something in the story resonates with our own life—our desire to strike it rich—to get something for nothing—to become famous. Jesus knew all about the longings of the human spirit. Therefore, He spoke with examples that would capture our attention—treasure. For treasure, we first have to acquire a map—one of those ancient pieces of paper, discolored with time, barely legible, and X marks the spot. That’s why we go through the attic, old wardrobes, footlockers of deceased relatives—to see if we can find the treasure that the family has talked about for years. Somewhere in a ranch, in an old house, in a grave site is what rightfully belongs to us, but no one has been able to find. Jesus invites us to hold on to the desire of finding what rightfully belongs to us—to get excited about discovering the greatest treasure of all—the Kingdom of heaven. “Wait a minute”—like a child telling the reader, “That that’s not the way the story ends”. We want treasure—gold, silver, pearls. Yet, the Kingdom of heaven does not have cash value. What can we buy with the Kingdom? Can the Kingdom pay for our bills? Apparently, Jesus did not have much money and He seemed to be happy. Some of the saints gave all of their possessions away to the poor. Obviously, the treasure, as we normally imagine, is not what the Kingdom is about.
Buried, lost or under water are the images Jesus used. In other words, the Kingdom is Hidden in plain sight. We usually can’t see the forest for the trees. When asked, Jesus said, “The Kingdom is all around you. The Kingdom is here and still to come. A little child can see the Kingdom—be like a child.” Being childlike is very difficult, especially the older we are. Some of us, not everybody, but some of us actually “dumb down” as we get older. Because we think that we are in control—that our education, our finances, our titles give us what we need. We have never been nor ever will be in control. The present crisis is a reminder of how fragile humanity is. We can easily get our priorities confused.
Given our systems of communication, we now have more information than ever. The illusion is that because we receive information, the information must be true. Countless images are shared and presumed to be true. Folks often comment on Bible stories and how what is written in the Bible is different from a movie. Discernment is necessary to differentiate between what is real and what is someone’s opinion or imagination. We live in a paranoid society. The treasure of the Kingdom is freedom of fear. Once we are convinced that we are unconditionally loved by God, there is no reason to fear, not even death. We know to whom we belong and where we are going. Fear always points to our inadequacies, unfinished business, resentments. Freedom points to our gifts, the goodness in everyone, eternal life. People of the Kingdom are not afraid. They have no time for fear because they are too busy spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They have no time to discriminate, to hold grudges, to resort to violence. The Kingdom is not about after we die, although there is continuity. The Kingdom is about now, always about now—the most difficult place to live—now. Here is where we find the treasure, the pearls, the good fish. God is giving us wonderful opportunities to show our true identity.
From the endless possibilities of where we could be, God has brought us here to show us the treasure—the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. We are forever grateful.