Spirituality for Today – Summer 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 4s


Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

In 1949 in Bulgaria, three brothers went digging for clay on the grounds of a tile factory near their home. During their labors, one of the brothers struck an object that he thought was a whistle of some sort. As they continued to dig, they discovered several gold-colored objects that they considered to be used for ceremonial purposes. What had happened on this momentous day was that the brothers had discovered thirteen pounds of solid gold vessels dating back to the 4th century B.C. They sought an amount of clay but found a priceless treasure instead. Throughout history, many accounts of serendipitous discoveries of treasure, both of monetary value and of historical importance, are on record.

Personal treasures are different things. Usually, they only have sentimental value: photographs of family or friends, momenta of special trips, or awards won over the course of a lifetime. It would be a gross mistake to consider them not to be possessions of immeasurable value. Which treasure would one hold to be the most important of all? Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven as a treasure buried in a field and as a pearl of great price. The one who recognizes this treasure will invest all that he has in order to obtain it. The greatest treasure of all is one possessed and yet to be possessed. Faith and the goal of that faith is the most valuable treasure of all.

How often does one think about faith as the greatest of all treasures? The worldliness of human nature as a distraction and a deception lurks irrepressibly. Illustrative of this regrettable reality are the words of the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus (A.D. 50 – A.D. 135), "Unless we place our religion and our treasure in the same thing, religion will always be sacrificed." Too often, the lure of immediate gratification and the apparent reasonableness of practicality shoves ethics and consequences aside. Religious thought invites us to engage in what may be called "in-depth pondering." By this notion, I mean that we take the time to think things through; we try to understand the various considerations of an issue; we carefully pull back the coverings to see what factors affect what we see on the surface. Our interpretations may prove to be foolish, but it also may allow love and understanding to flourish. At times, giving the benefit of the doubt may turn out to be the wise decision. Indeed, the love and mercy of God might be better understood by the human mind through the realization that only God knows the depths of the human heart. Only through faith, can we see a glimpse of what God sees in us and how we can have hope for humanity. Only through faith, can we, in the words of Our Lord, "remove the beam from our own eye in order to see clearly to remove the speck in our brother's eye." When it comes to acting in a virtuous manner, the worldly are cowards. They have neither the courage nor the desire to be introspective. Following unexamined motivations of personal actions removes the need to weigh and moral considerations. As the television commercial says about a person who has become accustomed to an unpleasant smell in their house, he has become "nose-blind" to it. Faith frees us from a partisanship of thought that may freeze out the movement of God's grace in our life. Our highest and most cherished treasure must be our religion. It is the one possession that neither nature can corrode, nor man can steal.

With the dawning of a new day, the treasure hunters arise. Flushed with hope, they go forth to seek their treasure. The goal of their search may be a personal or professional goal: a new job, a promotion, the heart of a love interest, reaching a physical benchmark at the gym, completing some work of literature or poetry, a successful experiment. Treasure does not have to consist of some priceless object. Some accomplishment or expression of fulfillment might suffice. Maybe the important question should not be what a treasure is but what a treasure means. Obviously, the definition of treasure means different things to different people. Yet, the final analysis of the end of life's journey ought to reflect a conclusion of whether it all mattered.

For the Christian, the significance of having lived rests in having lived a life pleasing to God and the attainment of an eternity in the paradise of God's love – Kingdom of Heaven. This treasure was not a hunt as much as a crafted and developing search for the Holy Spirit within and how that indwelling fashioned a secure sense of God's love, the sharing of that love in one's relationships with others, and a humble respect for the self as a child of God. Considering the variety of definitions of what a treasure is, this one is absolute. The task of discovering this treasure demands the surrender of one's heart into the hands of God and knowing that in the submission of one's total being, one's heart, he has found the greatest treasure of all. Jesus taught, "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Thus, the search ends.