Dear Parishioners and Visitors: please enjoy this guest column by John F. Craghan. —Msgr. Richard
Only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies. All too often we seek happiness in a world of comfort but find only monotony. We search for satisfaction in a world of pleasure but find only discontent. We look for power in a world of affluence but discover only disillusion. We must conclude that our life is devoid of meaning because it is devoid of Jesus. Only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies.
In the first reading Solomon faces a very serious challenge-namely, the specific gift he should request of the Lord. Several possibilities immediately suggest themselves: longevity, wealth, and political revenge. Eschewing these options, Solomon ultimately chooses the gift of wisdom: a wise and understanding heart that will be unequaled. In the context of today’s liturgy believers face a similar dilemma. They too can petition their God for wealth, power, or prestige. They will eventually learn, however, that only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies.
In the second reading Paul’s summary of the various stages of salvation history is a self-study. In his own way God chooses, God arranges, and God calls. The call on the road to Damascus is the overthrowing of normalcy in Paul’s life. The Jesus who speaks to him offers the new possibility of total commitment to himself and his message. The scene reverses Paul’s past and opens up a new world grounded in Jesus. Paul makes the discovery that only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies.
In the gospel Matthew pictures the farmer in a world of drab monotony whose future is determined. But the discovery of the treasure hidden in the field offers the possibility of a new life. He reverses his past by selling all that he has. He joyfully addresses the challenge of his new world. For Matthew, only the kingdom as rooted in the person of Jesus gives true meaning and direction to one’s life. For Matthew, only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies.
How do we find this in our own lives? Married couples who base their mutual love on the radical call of Jesus and not the comfort/security syndrome have discovered the treasure that satisfies. The single person who sees his or her career as a response to a world transforming Jesus uncovers the truly lasting value. The sick and the dying who view their condition as the raw material of the resurrection and not the merely incurable have found the secret formula for real life. Leaders who see their power as the opportunity to provide for others have hit upon the secret for success. All such people give witness that only the treasure that is Jesus satisfies.
The Eucharist proclaims the truth of this message as well, presenting the death and resurrection of Jesus as the treasure to be discovered or rediscovered by the believing community. The Eucharist insists that Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s call gave meaning to his life by opening up new possibilities. And the Eucharist urges all believers to find in the self-giving of Jesus the formula for happiness and success. The Eucharist thereby teaches that only the treasure is Jesus.
—John F. Craghan
John F. Craghan is professor emeritus of religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and the author of Trust (Little Rock Scripture Study); The Gospels of the Weekday Lectionary; And the Life of the World to Come; Psalms for All Seasons; and I Was Ill and You Cared for Me (Liturgical Press).