Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday of the Year
July 26, 2020
Father Clemens D. Manista
Through the parables during the last few Sundays, the Lord has been inviting us to consider our response to His gifts. This week, we hear of the discovery of the treasure buried in the field and the merchant acquiring the pearl of great price.
Can we imagine the transformation that these discoveries would make? Both would happen after a long and diligent search, driven by the possibilities that would open through these finds. A person would finally realize their ultimate dream and could begin a new stage in their life.
Do you hear a contemporary version of the found treasure parable today? Some years ago, an art dealer Forrest Fenn from Santa Fe, New Mexico, buried a chest filled with gold, gems and diamonds somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. That was back in 2010. He included clues to the treasure’s location in a poem published as part of his memoir.
Fenn indicated that originally he wanted the finder to use the funds to recover from the great recession of 2008. His other reason was to have people get up from their lives to explore and appreciate the beauty of the West.
The treasure was not found immediately. In fact, the quest went on for a decade. By some estimates over 350,000 participated in this effort. People were driven by the transformation they anticipated in their discovery.
For many it had the opposite effect, losing jobs, marriages destroyed. Some in their frustration believed it was all an elaborate hoax and brought suit against Mr. Fenn. Five people lost their lives searching for this treasure.
Finally in early June, a person from “back east” made the discovery. Fenn stated that he did not know the person who found it but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot. He congratulated the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.
One of the other themes this Sunday is the request of Solomon for the gift of wisdom. We hear how God grants that request and enables him to faithfully serve his people.
Let us request the wisdom we need to draw closer to the Lord. As we learned earlier one way is through our experience of God’s creation. This summer we may be returning as a family to our favorite beach or place in the country. The beauty and peacefulness of those settings can give rise to our prayer and thankfulness. Quiet moments can fuel our meditation and contemplation.
We can give praise and thanks to God for the treasures of blessing and grace. We can appreciate unexpected opportunities for growth and development that we experienced this past year. None of us could have anticipated the impact of the coronavirus on our world and our lives. Public health measures such as the stay-at-home orders and lockdowns gave us more time to be together. Our homes were turned into schools, gyms and entertainment centers. We could draw closer as a family. We celebrated the accomplishments and the growth of our children. We had to mark graduations in new and creative ways.
We also missed our parish family. Our churches were closed for three months. We could not come together for Sunday Mass. We missed Holy Week, the Triduum and the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. There was the postponement of many sacramental celebrations.
During this same time, the Lord gave us many ways to care for one another. Parishes live streamed Mass for their people. News and updates were shared on bulletins posted on parish websites. Religious formation materials and class material was emailed to families. Groups of volunteers called and supported their fellow parishioners. Others joined food pantries and school groups providing food during this time.
So in these and many other ways, the Lord has given us unexpected treasures of caring and growth. As we praise and thank God this weekend for these gifts, may the Lord continue to transform us in His grace and love.