Just a few weeks ago, a second person died searching the hills of Northern New Mexico for a buried treasure. A few years ago, Forrest Fenn (supposedly) hid a 10” by 10” bronze chest full of gold and jewels worth (supposedly) $2,000,000. Yes, thousands of people have set out on a quest in search of a treasure chest worth two million dollars and two men, one 54 years old and the other 52 years old, have died searching. It’s a sad tail and one wonders if it can have a happy ending. If and when someone finds the treasure, what will they do with it? Will they share any of it with the families of the two men who died searching for it? That’s a difficult ethical and moral question but one worth considering. Yes, Fenn issued his challenge specifically for “risk takers” so perhaps the responsibility of these deaths falls solely on the individual’s shoulders. The risk is known. What about Fenn? Does he bear any responsibility? What if the whole thing is, as some claim, a hoax? It’s easy to dream of what I would do with $2,0000,000 but is it worth risking my life?
In today’s Gospel we hear two stories of treasure being found. In the first case, the man stumbles on it accidentally. In the second case, he comes across it in the course of his daily business. Notice what happens in each case. Each man sells everything he owns to obtain the treasure. The allegory is obvious. Jesus declares it, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like,” and the inference is also obvious: Eternal Life with God is worth more than all the treasure on earth. Still we search.
The third allegory about the Kingdom is different. A net gathers in all the fish and the good are separated from the bad in eschatological (end-times) fashion, just like the grain and weeds from last week’s Gospel but fish are different than grain and weeds. They can move about from one place to another searching for food. They seem to exist simply from day to day without any purpose in life and, at times, succumb to the attraction of a lure that glimmers in sunlight like a treasure chest. Sound familiar? Are we like the fish?
God created us for His Kingdom. Augustine puts it so eloquently when he says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” That is the Real Treasure.