Treasure Worth More Than a Billion Dollars

 Sunday, July 26, 2020, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

•1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12
•Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
•Rom 8:28-30
•Mt 13:44-52 OR 13:44-46

By Marc Massery

What would you do for a billion dollars? 

Would you be willing to do something dangerous or terrifying, like jump from an airplane? Would you do something disgusting, like eat a worm? Would you give up an arm or a leg? What sacrifice would you be willing to make for that much money, hypothetically? Where would you draw the line?

Many of us, for example, wouldn’t be willing to give up family, friends, or our faith for any amount of wealth. Others would be willing to do almost anything for that much money, including selling out their values. In the end, just about all of us would be willing to do something radical for that amount of money. 

Wealth, after all, gives us certain freedoms we couldn’t otherwise enjoy. We’d never have to worry about finances again. We would never have to work a job we didn’t like. And we could help our family, friends, and many others.  

For these reasons, gaining wealth is a decent analogy for the Gospel. In this Sunday's Gospel reading, Jesus says:

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Mt 13:44)

While wealth can be empowering, it’s not nearly as empowering as the Gospel message. Jesus offers us peace and healing in this life. He offers us freedom from the bonds of sin and a chance at eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. As St. Paul said, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). With Christ on our side, we don't have to worry about the future. We don't have to suffer in shame and guilt over the past. We don't even have to be afraid of death. 

There’s no treasure on earth that could possibly compare with what Christ offers us. The Gospel is worth far more than a billion dollars. And we ought to be willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Unfortunately, many in this fallen world would rather put their trust in money than in God. They’d rather only make sacrifices to attain wealth, because they don’t believe, or they don’t fully understand, the transformative power of God.  

While there’s nothing more empowering and freeing than the Gospel message, there’s also no calling more demanding than Christ’s. Jesus calls us to chastity, temperance, obedience, humility, and love, many virtues which the worldly person would be unwilling to commit to for any amount of money. Yet, the Gospel message is so promising that any sacrifice it demands, we ought to fulfill it with joy. 

In St. Faustina’s Diary, she frequently refers to Jesus and the Gospel message as a “treasure.” She says:

I truly would not be able to live without You, even for a moment, Jesus. Today my soul has lost itself in You, my only treasure. My love knows no obstacles in giving proof of itself to its Beloved (239).

Jesus gave St. Faustina so much joy, so much peace. She learned that the more completely she gave herself over to Him — the more she sacrificed — the more of His love and grace she would receive. If only we could be as consumed by Christ as St. Faustina was. If only we could understand, as she did, the boundless treasure we have in Jesus Christ as our Lord and God.

Today, let’s pray for a renewed joy in the Gospel message. Let's ask the Lord to help us become more radically devoted to Him in all that we say and do. Let’s pray that He gives us the grace to stop at nothing for the sake of the Gospel, which is worth more than all the money in the world.

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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