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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Our faith in Jesus is a treasure of incomparable worth


Sunday Scripture readings for July 30, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12  Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130  Rom 8:28-30  Mt 13:44-52

Our faith in Jesus is a treasure of incomparable worth

“Antiques Roadshow” is a long running, popular television program that evokes the treasure hunter in all of us. The show features art experts and appraisers who see people from all walks of life bring their family heirlooms and treasured objects for review and appraisal. Some visitors are delighted to learn that their treasures are valuable beyond their expectations, while others discover the actual worth of their possession is not what they thought they would be.

The appeal of the show is in the element of surprise, as appraisers disclose their final estimation of the value of a treasured object. Often, even when an object is given low appraisal, it still holds a treasured place in the hearts and memories of its owners. There’s something in us that likes to discover and hold on to treasures, whether we find them in our attics, basements, at yard sales or among long forgotten personal or family belongings.

In the Gospel, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure buried in a field — one that a person finds and hides again. Out of joy he goes and sells all he has to buy the field. The kingdom of heaven, says Jesus, is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When the merchant finds one pearl of great price, he sells everything he has in order to buy that one treasure.

As we ponder his words we might ask, what is the treasure that the Lord speaks of? Of all the gifts we are given, God’s word invites us to see our faith in Jesus as the treasure of incomparable worth. Faith is the pearl of great price, for it transforms our lives as we grow in friendship with Jesus. Faith helps us overcome the challenges of life and recognize the joys and graces we have received as disciples of the Lord. In faith, we begin to live with gratitude as children who are loved unconditionally by God in his kingdom that is eternal.

Saint Paul directs our minds to the incomparable treasure of faith when he reminds the Romans that, “we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Faith brings us into the circle of divine love, to entrust ourselves to God in confident hope.

The psalmist also invites our recognition of the precious gift of faith as he sings to God a hymn of praise, “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

God’s word invites a deeper question — what do I search for in life? What do I treasure the most? Is belonging to the kingdom of God my pearl of great price? Is friendship with God the treasure I long for each day? Jesus invites us to recognize and to give thanks for the gift of faith today. And as we remain close to the treasure of God’s word, we discover in faith the true meaning and purpose of life as we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”

Question: How do Jesus’ words invite you to deeper faith today?

Jem Sullivan holds a doctorate in religious education and is an associate professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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