Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Homilies

"'Understanding the Hidden Treasure of the Kingdom in Mind and Heart"
Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 24, 2011
Year A

Solomon was the privileged son of King David. It was under Solomon's rule that ancient Israel reached its pinnacle of prosperity, influence, and geographical size. At the beginning of his reign, God showed that He was with the new king by appearing to him and inviting him to ask a favor. King Solomon, aware that God had given him an important and difficult mission, asked for the grace of wisdom, which would help him fulfill that mission. He did not ask for long life or wealth of any kind. This was what made Solomon righteous: not that he was perfect in every way, but that loving God and neighbor by fulfilling his life-duties was his first priority. God granted his request, making Solomon the wisest of rulers. Kings and queens of the ancient world travel long distances to hear him speak because he had an understanding of things not known to all. He was able to see beyond the external level of reality and pierce the mystery of God – the hidden treasure.

The idea of a hidden treasure is appropriate for the preaching of Jesus. As He demonstrates in the parables we just read. His message is one that would not be fully revealed to all nor fully understood by all – therefore, we find something of great value present in that which He proclaims – that of Kingdom of Heaven. Even the disciples had a difficult time. But here, the characteristics of the disciples are that of the seed that fell on good soil and produced fruit, soil that has the capacity for growth. Though they still have much to learn, they at least have an understanding of that hidden treasure that sets them apart from the crowds and in particular the scribes and Pharisees, who are in opposition to Christ.

What sets them apart? Their humility and their response to Jesus. Like Solomon, they were open to the Lord’s call. And after the resurrection, filled with the Spirit, they were finally able to fully grasp that hidden meaning of Jesus’ message and went out to preach the Good News and transformed the world. They left everything behind because the hidden treasure of the kingdom was made known to them – they understood it, both in mind and heart.

This is the message of the first two parables we heard in today’s Gospel – the urgency of responding to the good news of the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is like a priceless treasure that completely alters one’s priorities in life. A person joyfully abandons all worldly treasure in order to obtain the treasure of heaven. But how could we even begin to hunt for this treasure, to go after it, to capture it, to obtain it… if we do not fully understand its value? Therein lies the problem of today. I hear it so often – I don’t go to Mass because I don’t understand what’s happening. I don’t understand why the Church teaches this or that, so I don’t follow it and I won’t observe it. These kinds of statements say a lot about our own character and where our priorities lie. But we have to realize that our history, our tradition, our sacraments – these are what make us unique, unlike any other religion of the world. But it’s difficult to observe these teachings and be faithful when the value and hidden treasure is unperceived. Indeed, we live in a society that is in dire need for Christians – for us – to be better witnesses to the truth of the Gospel message and the love of God but we can’t do that if we remain stubborn and opposed to deepening our understanding of that which we believe. I’m not simply talking about having a better understanding solely in the mind – that is important – but also an understanding that penetrates the heart. We need to become more and more like Solomon – filled with wisdom that sees past the surface level, the superficial and pierces the mysteries of God. We need to become more and more like the disciples, who, though they were not perfect and had much to learn, once filled with the Spirit were able to grasp the hidden treasure of the kingdom and bear witness to the Good News. Because in doing so, then will we begin to understand the deeper meaning and value behind our history, tradition, and sacraments.

One such opportunity to learn and deepen our understanding is by way of the changes to the Mass. As we learn more and more about the Mass and the changes to some of the words, we are given an opportunity to rediscover for ourselves the grace that lies hidden within these sacramental rituals. Another opportunity occurs everyday in our own prayer. Simply through staying connected to God through a continual dialogue with Him, He will deepen our knowledge and understanding of His ways by speaking directly to our hearts. And there are so many other different ways that affords the opportunity to grow in our faith, to deepen our understanding of the riches of our tradition, history and worship.

In our prayer today, may we have the humility to be open to growth in faith, the courage to take advantage of these means, to learn, to understand, and to listen with the ears of our hearts to God who speaks to us of the hidden treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven.


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield, MA

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