HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: The hidden treasures of God’s Love
BY: Fr. Benneth Onyebuchukwu
On January 3, 2017, the Telegraph published a story of one Stuart Wilson who paid £32,000 for a 4.6-acre plot of land in 2004 after becoming convinced an ancient industrial town called Trellech – one of the largest medieval towns in Wales – may be buried underneath. It was an unusual decision and, possibly, one that you might come to regret; using your life savings to buy an empty field. it was a decision that paid off – after he dug it up and discovered it was home to a medieval city. The 37-year-old had been digging in the field opposite following a tip-off from a local farmer when the land went up for auction. He said he had looked at the area and realised it did not look typically agricultural, with large, square fields. Instead, he thought a “footprint” had been created by a structure under the ground. After putting in the highest bid and winning the plot, the former toll booth worker had to live with his parents so he could finance the field and only managed to move back out last year. But he said his decision was worth it, as his team have since found a moated mansion, around 400 square metres in size, and rare artefacts including a medieval flower pot.
On July 20, 2017, the Chicago Tribune reported that a bag containing moon dust owned by a suburban Chicago woman has sold at auction for $1.8 million. Used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, the collection bag was featured at a Sotheby’s auction in New York City of items related to space voyages. The pre-sale estimate had been $2 million to $4 million. Nancy Lee Carlson, a baby boomer who told the Tribune that in the past she had always been fascinated by the Apollo missions, came across the bag, labeled “lunar sample return,” on an online federal auction site. After nobody bid on it during three initial auctions, she bought it for $995 in February 2015.
In the gospel of this Sunday Jesus told us the parable of the treasure and the pearl. At the time of Jesus, there were many stories about hidden treasures hidden in the fields. In the old times, wars and invasions by foreign armies were fairly frequent, so people had to run for their safety. Before fleeing, they would bury their treasures and things they could not carry away with them in their fields, hoping to recover them once they danger was over. The owners often did not return any more, and their fields, after being uncultivated for years, were taken over by other people who did not know about the buried treasure. One day some passerby might notice some particular glitter and suspecting what it was, he would sell everything he possessed to buy that field. Imagine the reaction of a family who sees a neighbour selling off everything to buy a piece of land that apparently is just like any other piece of land. Won’t they think that this neighbour of theirs has gone mad?
Jesus says that one who has discovered the kingdom of God has discovered a treasure. Such a person might be seen as one who has gone mad by some people even family members and friends. Such a person is willing to give his or her time, money, and life just to possess the kingdom of God. Sometimes non-believers, pagans, atheists think of Christians as mad people. As a man once put it to me “this whole Christian thing is complete hocus pocus and meaningless”. Isn’t this what finding a hidden treasure at first looks and feels like.
Has our life, our way of thinking and talking been transformed since we found Jesus Christ? What did we really give up to find or meet Jesus? What are the things that we give most time to in life? As Christians, do we still see fellow Christians who are making efforts to unite their lives with the Lord as people without sense or stupid people? Following Jesus requires certain life changing decisions. Jesus once told his followers “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?…(Matthew 16:25-26).