In Sunday’s Gospel we are told of a man who finds a hidden treasure buried in a field and that he goes and sells all he has to buy the filed in order to have that treasure. Why is it hidden and what does that mean for us?
To say that the treasure, an image for the Kingdom of Heaven, is hidden is to indicate that the gift and glory that God has waiting for us is not something we can fathom. Scripture says,
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has ever conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor 2:9)
Yes, what God has prepared for us are joys unspeakable and glories untold; a Kingdom, a place and vision so glorious that it cannot be described or understood by us now. Oh the glory of what waits, the heights and depth of it, and the ecstasy of beholding the beautiful, magnificent and wondrous face of God, He who has made us for Himself. We have an infinite longing in our hearts that this world can never supply, no matter how vast its offerings. One day, if we are faithful, our eyes will close on this world and, having been purged of our last attachments and imperfections they will open to the beautiful face of God and every longing will be filled. We will join the great dance of Love that is the life of the Trinity, that which the Eastern Church calls the perichoresis. And the Communion of saints will be ours as well, a union and intimacy with each other and every person that is unimaginable now. This is what we were made for and this is what God offers.
But now, much of this is hid from our eyes, from our understanding. Some of us get foretastes of it in deep contemplative prayer, but even this is a distant glimpse of the glory that waits.
And this hidden quality of the Kingdom of Heaven, like a buried treasure, is also what most derails us in our pursuit of it. There is an old saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” And this is a way of saying that a pleasure that is currently available to me now is deemed more satisfying than some future pleasure, even if it is far greater than what I have now. The trinkets of the world that are present to us now too easily mesmerize us and make us dismissive of some future glory that we cannot see and must trust God that it is ours if we are faithful.
Hence the parable of a person finding a buried treasure and eagerly selling everything to acquire it seems to present a picture too challenging for us; it is like a gamble. Is God for real? Are my present pleasures really nothing compared to the glory that waits? What if I miss out in the pleasures and my favorite sins, waiting for a glory train that never comes?!
It is true, we must trust God who assures us of joys unspeakable and glories untold. The treasure is hidden in the field of our heart and we must give our hearts wholly to God who alone can satisfy us. Deep down we know that this world cannot satisfy our infinite longing; that its offerings are mere trinkets that give joy for a mere moment and then its off to the yard sale. Deep down we know that the final offering of this world is a stone cold tomb. But it is what we know. Can we trust God that something greater waits for us, something so wonderful that we should forsake anything that hinders us from obtaining it?
In this condition it is clear that our heart lacks two things: faith and proper desire. There is only one solution. We have to fall to our knees and beg the Lord for a new heart and mind. This humility is necessary if we are going to get anywhere. If we try to do this out of our own flesh power our efforts will last ten minutes, max. God has promised this if we will humbly ask:
O my people, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a true heart. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you (Ezekiel 36:26-29)
And thus we should pray:
Heavenly Father, I love you but not enough. Increase my love. I tend to desire worldly trinkets more than what you offer. I desire things that I know are bad for me, in abundance, and I do not desire what I know is good for me. My heart is disordered and I cannot fix it on my own. Please, in your love go to work. My life resembles almost nothing of the one who found a hidden treasure and sold everything for it. Only you can bring this about. I give you permission to go to work. I ask that you be gentle, for I am weak and can only take so much. But, please Lord, do what you need to do, in the way you want to do it. All I ask is your grace and mercy.