Friday, July 28, 2017

Embracing a Real Treasure

Dear Friends,

Refugees and people in disaster areas often post signs asking: “Has anyone seen…?” These desperate seekers are looking for the lost loved ones they treasure. Over the last several  years, news reports have told of sunken ships found  off the Florida coast, near Columbia and in the  Mediterranean  Sea near Israel. Gold and various desirable artifacts are on board.  The search, in all these cases, is for treasure.

It takes a developed skill to recognize a treasure. In January 1996, a woman discovered that a statue of Cupid which adorned the lobby of a Fifth Avenue building in New York City was more than a charming decoration. It was a long-lost, authentic Michelangelo. Countless people saw it daily for years, but only her eye, attuned to treasure, recognized it for what it was. Can we, can our family,our nation recognize authentic treasure? What are our treasures anyway? What would we go to the mat for? What quest absorbs our time and energy? Do we name as treasure some of the realities we hold in common with other people: our nation, our church, freedom, equality and human rights for all people? Is God a treasure for us? Do we seek to know and embrace the real Jesus Christ or are we satisfied with the Jesus of our own or someone else’s making? Do we spend time with our timeless God? Do we work at recognizing God as the indispensable, loving partner of our every moment?

Eavesdropping on the dream conversation between Solomon and God in 1Kings 3.5-12, God says to Solomon: "Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Then God waits to see if Solomon would ask for a long life for himself, riches or the lives of his enemies. Solomon asked for none of these. Instead, he recognized that he was inexperienced in governing – which prompted him to ask for an understanding heart – i.e. wisdom to distinguish right from wrong- to serve as a leader who knows justice and compassion. It’s precisely that prayer for wisdom that I wish could be on your lips and mine as we make our way through life.

To retain or acquire a treasure is a costly thing. Whatever it is that we prize, cherish or hold dear we will have to be willing to pay the price - take a risk. Are we willing to submit our instinctive embrace of our treasure to God ? Actively pursuing a real treasure requires that we let go of whatever prevents us from acquiring it, as in the following telling make-believe story.

Consider the man who so loved his native Crete that he died clutching in his hands the soil of his land. Peter , ever ready to offer hospitality at the gate of heaven, told the man  he would have to leave the soil there or he couldn’t come in. “No,” the man said. “I love it too much to let go!” The man’s wails of  protest  sent Peter hurrying off to find Jesus, who came to the gate and went through the same dialogue with the man from Crete. But Jesus was adamant. “Look, friend. You either drop the soil or you don’t enter heaven.” Reluctantly, the man let go of the soil which cascaded like rain back to Crete.  Then Jesus smiled , embraced the man and said: “Come.” Together Jesus and the dejected, empty- handed man walked up a long flight of stairs. At the top of the staircase, Jesus flung open the double doors and there, in all its splendor… was Crete.

~Sister Joan Sobala