Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homily: Buried Treasure

What does it mean to bury treasure?  There is no shortage of stories that capitalize on the finding of buried treasure.  (Mt 13:44) Parable of a man who buries a treasure in a field only to sell all he has to buy the field.   Some stories recount how people will bury a treasure in hopes that it will grow in value.  A tale in the story of Pinocchio tells of how Pinocchio buries some money in a field of miracles, in hopes to later find a tree dripping with money.   He only did this because he was deceived by the fox and the cat.  He did go back to see if his spot bore the tree he'd hoped for, but as he dug and dug, he found nothing, not even the money he'd buried there.

But what of the moral of today's parable?  Those that first heard the parable understood “talents” as a sum of one thousand gold coins, nothing to scoff at, to be sure.  We today understand talents as God-given abilities that contributes to make each person unique.  The point of the story is still the same.   Each of us is called to make full use of the skills and abilities we have been given.  Not to do so is considered a serious sin.  We may be able to relate to this parable even more because it is all about investment, wise investment:  Investment, risk and return. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the famous Sherlock Holmes is quoted as saying:  “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.” 

In history, there have been a great many people who, in spite of handicaps, felt compelled to press on in their works.  The poet John Milton was struck blind later in life, but he could not let this stop his writing.  If he had, then the world would not have the great and classic work Paradise Lost.   The same with Mozart, who later in life lost his hearing, yet still produced great works such as his 9th Symphony and Requiem. 

These are very earthly and human examples of a very divine and spiritual reality.  God exists primarily to give.  Does God need anything?  No, He is sufficient in Himself (or Themselves:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).   We understand God as Trinity: the Father gives Himself to the Son totally, the Son receives from the Father totally, and the Holy Spirit is the dynamic relationship between the two. 

If you want God's life in you, you must be conformed to His way of being.  It seems like a paradox.  Normally, if we want something, we have to reach out and take it.  However, if we want the life of God in us – His Grace – we must give of ourselves.   This is why it's so hard for us in our culture to conform to our God, because our culture says that if we want something, we must reach out and grab it, sometimes at the expense of others.  Yet, we must remember that everything we have, all our being, possessions and powers and abilities – these are all gifts from God.  Since we have received them from God, they are meant to be gifts to others.   If we try to hoard our gifts and talents, they will not grow.  They will wither away.   That's why Jesus in our Gospel today tells us “For to everyone who has, more will be given . . . but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  That third servant thought he had so little and buried it.  He didn't know what a treasure he had.  Yet the other two servants took a risk and invested their talents, and behold, they got back double.   The key here is to take the risk and use  our gifts as they were meant to be used, that is to be given away.  That is the only way we can grow rich with God's grace. 

The examples from history given previously are marvelous inspirations for us to persevere in giving our gifts in spite of handicaps and hardships we endure.  God will richly reward you for pushing forward in giving your gifts, especially in the face of adversity.  Everyone loves a cheerful giver, especially God, and the return will be that much sweeter. 

1 comment:

  1. Great homily... Didn't quite understand our priest today at mass, and this homily was just what I needed.

    Thanks Father!


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