Wednesday July 27, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 34:29-35) Gospel (St. Matthew 13:44-46)
Our Lord, in speaking of the kingdom of heaven, reminds us that it is something which is hidden but it is something of extraordinary value – so much, in fact, that it is worth selling everything we have in order to obtain it.
All we have to do is look at Moses. Moses, when he heard the Word of God, was willing to leave behind everything and do what God was asking him to do. At one point, when the people were disobedient, God said to Moses, “Let Me wipe them all out, and we’ll start over,” and Moses stood in the breach to turn back the anger of God against the people. Moses had found that kingdom of God; he understood what it was about. It was not about himself. It was about the Lord and it was about charity, the love of God and the love of neighbor. So much was Moses in love with God that, after speaking with God up on Mount Sinai, Moses’ face was glowing.
Saint Paul points out to us that if the first covenant, which was written on tablets of stone, was made in such glory that the face of Moses was radiant, how much more glorious is the New Covenant, the one that is not written on tablets of stone but rather is written in our hearts. It is the covenant that brings not death, but a covenant that brings life. It is a covenant of love. And if the face of Moses was radiant at the glory of that covenant, again, Saint Paul tells us that the Old Covenant could be considered almost as nothing by comparison to the new. Yet that Old Covenant was so glorious that Moses would glow because of what he had seen and heard.
Now we look at our own selves and we say, “Here we are incorporated into the New Covenant.” That New Covenant, remember, is a person, and so we are incorporated into Jesus Christ Who is God Himself. We celebrate that covenant every single day when we receive Holy Communion. Once again, we receive God into our own selves, yet how many of us walk away almost as if we were untouched? We walk away unchanged. When Moses heard the words of God and saw the glory that was there, he was changed forever. And God was outside of him at that point. God is inside of us. This is the buried treasure. If Moses was willing to give up everything in order to follow God because of the Ten Commandments, because he had recognized the Person of God and was willing to do anything, how much more should we, when God has given up everything in order to come to us, in order to pay such a great price for us. Someone recently pointed out to me that from God’s perspective we are the pearl of great price. We are the hidden treasure, and He was willing to give everything right down to the last drop of His blood. He paid the great price for this hidden treasure. If we look in the mirror, we are going to realize that we are not much of a treasure. Yet look at how valuable we were to God. How much more – infinitely more – is the value of God for us, yet most of us barely even recognize it.
So that is what we need to look at. This treasure which is right there in front of us right now in the Blessed Sacrament, this treasure which is inside of us (the Holy Trinity dwells in us when we are in the state of grace) and the treasure which is going to be substantially within us and sacramentally within us in just a few minutes, if we do not recognize this gift, this hidden treasure, this Pearl of the greatest price Who is God Himself, then we are the ones who have completely failed. If we do not recognize that this is so valuable, that we would be willing to give up everything in this world in order to have that treasure, then we do not understand what the treasure is.
The Lord tells us it is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. How much do we really want it? How serious are we about finding it? That is what we really need to look at. Look at how important we were to God. Look at the Cross and see. God came in search of us. He was willing to pay everything for us. How much are we willing to give for Him? Are we really recognizing the treasure which is ours, the treasure which He has given to us in such a hidden form so that we could uncover it and make it our own? The only way we will make it our own is, first of all, if we recognize that it is important enough to search for it, and then secondly, if when we find it we are willing to give up everything so that we can have the fullness of that treasure. And when we give up everything, then we truly receive absolutely everything because He is all in all, and He will fill us in a way that nothing in this world can. That treasure, that pearl of great price, will not only be ours here, but it is then a treasure that no one can take from us, and we will be united with Him for all eternity.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.