Sunday Scriptures

Heaven Is the Treasure We Seek

By Father Alonzo Q. Cox

At this very moment, I am penning this article from the city of Jerusalem. I, along with two other priests, and 40 pilgrims from the Diocese of Brooklyn are walking in the footsteps of our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ through the cities of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem.

For every Christian, the Holy Land is a place where the Scriptures come alive, right before our very eyes. This is my second visit to the Holy Land, my first though as a priest. My first visit was as a transitional deacon in the seminary over seven years ago. I had the great joy of being in the Holy Land with seminary rector, Msgr. Peter Vaccari and my classmates from the Diocese of Rockville Centre. We arrived just a little over a month after our diaconate ordination, and in the a few short months ahead, we would be ordained priests.

Prayers for Strength, Courage

It was a great preparation for my priesthood ordination. Throughout that pilgrimage, I asked the Lord to give me the strength and courage that I needed to be a good and holy priest.

My prayer then was not much different from what we hear from Solomon in today’s first reading from the first Book of Kings. As the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream, God says to him, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you” (Kings 3:5). Immediately, Solomon could have asked for wealth, prestige and honor, but he doesn’t ask for any of those things. All Solomon asks for is an understanding heart, so that he is able to judge his people.

My sisters and brothers, God is asking us to have loving and understanding hearts, not quick to judge, but willing to embrace. We do not need fame or fortune to mold who we are, only a heart of love and mercy, ready to welcome the lost and forgotten. We need to continue to spread God’s love to all those whom we encounter throughout our lives. It is in the sharing of God’s love that we strengthen the kingdom of God here on earth.

Jesus continues to teach His disciples about the kingdom of heaven using parables. Jesus uses the image of the kingdom as a treasure that is found. He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field again” (Matthew 44-45). That is the treasure that we long for. With loving hearts, we know this, we believe this and we understand this.

Our greatest desire as Christians is to bring people closer to Christ the Lord. Each of us, throughout our daily lives must always keep this desire in our thoughts and prayers. No matter what our profession in life may be, we know that all things work for good for those who love God.

Imitating Him

As witnesses of the Lord, we want to share our own encounter with Jesus by imitating Him in all that we say and do. There is nothing in this world that fulfills our longings and desires, only Jesus Christ.

As we continue to journey with the Lord, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to hover over each of us, striving to be people of love and mercy. By virtue of our baptism, we have been conformed to the image of Christ the Lord. May we never be lured by the temptation of judging and division, but allowing our hearts to be that of love, mercy and understanding.

Readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time      

1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12

Psalm 119: 57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130

Romans 8: 28-30

Matthew 13: 44-52 or Matthew 13: 44-46

Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American immigrants.