17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

            I was requested to bless a big, beautiful mansion. The owner of the house is a 42-year old bachelor an architect by profession and has his own construction firm. Without me asking, the owner told me that he had spent around 50 million pesos, so far, for that house.

            Sabi niya, noong nasa high school pa lang siya, eh, may dream house na siya. Dahil hindi naman mayaman ang kanyang pamilya, kaya parang isang impossible dream ito. Pero ito ang nagtulak sa kanya para mag-aral nang mabuti at makakuhang scholarship sa magaling na university, magkamit ng honors sa college, maging top notcher sa board exam, makapagtrabaho at ma-promote agad, at magtayo ng sariling construction firm at mapaunlad nang mabilis.

            Needless to say, his “dream house” became the captivating goal of his life, the driving force in all his efforts, the motivating reason for his sacrifices. Masyadong natuon ang kanyang isip at puso sa pag-aaral, pagtratrabaho at paghahanap-buhay para makaipon para sa kanyang dream house kaya halos wala raw siyang social life, kahit nga love life. Sa katunayan, 42-anyos na siya pero wala pa rin siyang sariling pamilya – kahit nga girlfriend, eh, wala. I wanted, but I did not have the guts, to ask him: “Is it worth it?” “Now that you have built your dream house, is your life complete? Are you fulfilled?” Here is a person who devoted his life to his dream house. He made it his highest priority. He gave up a lot of things for it. He focused his mind, heart and soul to its realization.

            Today’s gospel reading challenges us to ask ourselves: What are the things we consider as priceless? Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of great joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Somehow the Lord is saying, No matter how much you may own, no matter how much political power you may hold, no matter how glamorous and popular you may be, no matter how high on the IQ scale you may register, if you have missed out on the kingdom of heaven, you have missed out on the one thing in life whose value far exceeds all others.”

            So, the question is: Are we willing and ready to give up whatever is necessaryto secure that treasure and pearl we can find in the Lord? Are we willing “to sell all we have” in order for us to possess the real treasure, which is the kingdom of God?

            Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides.” What the Lord Jesus is telling us is basically this: “Love God above everything else, above everybody else.” “Surrender to his will, situate all the other concerns of your life –legitimate as they are – within that over-arching framework.” “Your life must be first and last about God.” “What you must be concerned about, first and last, is God.” And then, the rest of your life, with all its concerns and issues, its activities and affairs, its worries and anxieties, will fall into place… it will have the right orientation.”

            Our Christian life is a huge cache of valuables, a supply of riches, a field of spiritual treasures. All the riches and treasures of the kingdom can be ours, if we make a room or leave a space in our life to receive them. But if our life is so full of material things, if our heart is so full of worldly desires, if our mind is so full of ourselves and our interests, if both our hands are so tightly closed holding on to things, of course, there will be no more room for the kingdom. There will be no more space for kingdom-treasures in our life. If our treasure chest has any worthless trash, the garbage needs to be tossed away…to make room for more valuables.

            In the first reading, Solomon could have asked God for great wealth or long life, and he would have received it; rather, he asked God, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart.” We should also ask for an understanding heart. We should pray for wisdom, so that we might value what is right and true, good and beautiful. Let us, therefore, pray for an understanding heart that we may be able to sell all that we have to possess the treasure of the kingdom of God.

            Let us end by praying for an understanding heart, as Solomon did…Lord God, give your servant a discerning heart that I may always be aligned with your vision, your dream, your desire for humankind. Nothing in this world is of any value except knowing that I am responding in love to your call. Make me realize that in aligning myself with Jesus, that in seeing him more closely, loving him more intensely, following him more faithfully, is the way to follow your will. Let this be my one and only treasure. Amen.

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