17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
One of my favorite English words is serendipity. It is defined as “the ability of finding valuable things unexpectedly, the ability or gift of finding valuable things in unexpected places.”
Today’s gospel reading is about serendipity. It talks about a treasure buried in a field. A person finds it unexpectedly – “hides it again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
That is the story and the central lesson is clear: Jesus says that is what the kingdom of God is like. You will sell everything you have, everything you own to possess the supreme worth of the Kingdom. Whatever it takes to enter, whatever cost may be exacted from us, it is worth it. To enter the Kingdom is the end toward which all life moves. We will come back to that point…Allow me first to elaborate on serendipity.
Many of the finest things in life are serendipities. I know that is a bold assertion. But isn’t it true? I know also that there is another side to the coin: discipline, setting goals, having a purpose, being tenacious and persistent. These are things we get by action. But let us not forget the serendipities –those things that come to us by indirection. We are looking for one thing and we find another.
Happiness is not something you find by seeking it. It is not something you gain by striving for it. Happiness is a byproduct. It comes to us by indirection. It is the byproduct of what we are doing, of how we are living, of our attitudes in life.
Serendipities can only come to those who are open, those who are alive to the moment, those who respond to what life is offering now. They can only come to those who allow themselves to be surprised by God in the most unexpected ways. They can only come to those who have the eyes of faith to see the presence of God in everything. They can only come to those who pay attention to the signs and proofs of God’s love around them –even in the most ordinary, common, simple and even seemingly insignificant things and events. God’s kingdom comes to us not when we try harder, but when we look closer.
Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17: 21) That means we do not work to achieve the kingdom of God. We look for it and receive it when we give life our attention. Or when we, like children, hold on to the belief that there is joy waiting to be discovered. Jesus called that joy the kingdom of God.
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. Ang dapat nating hilingin sa Diyos ay pagkalooban tayo ng karunungan upang mabatid natin na ang lahat ng bagay rito sa lupa ay panandalian lang, hindi magtatagal, hindi pangmagpakailanman. At kailangan nating mabatid na isang malaking kahangalan na pagtuunan o paglaanan ng buhay natin ang mga bagay na nagsisilbing hadlang sa pagpasok natin sa paghahari ng Diyos.
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.
Let us end with a prayer: 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.