L. Frank Baum wrote a very popular children’s story titled, The Wizard of Oz, and in the story the characters are all searching for a personal treasure that will help them to realize the full meaning of their lives. The various characters search for intelligence, compassion and courage. Though they travel to a distant land to find their treasures, each one discovers that they were already in possession of these treasures in their own lives. Dorothy, the main character, dreams of a far away land “over the rainbow” where she will find happiness and peace and where all of her problems will melt away. She discovers that the true secret to happiness is in thefriendships and the relationships that she has with people in her own home. They are her true mentors and teachers of wisdom in everyday life. She finally discovers and concludes her search with the insight that, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” The parables that Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew deliver a similar message about the Kingdom of God.
The parables that Jesus tells us compare the Kingdom of God to a treasure that is hidden in a field and discovered by a person who is digging in that field. It is also compared to a pearl of great price that a certain person has been searching for all of his life. Finally, Jesus tells us the parable of the dragnet that brings in a great catch that consists of both the good and the worthless. The fisherman sits down to sort out what is good and what is worthless and he keeps the good in a bucket and throws that which is worthless away. These parables all speak to us of the nearness of the Kingdom of God to each one of us. The treasure of life is very near to us, we just need the wisdom to discern what is of true value in life and what is worthless and of no value, what is right and what is wrong. God has hidden the good of the Kingdom in the world around us and we need only search in the fields and nets of our own lives to be able to find that good. God created life and declared it very good. The goodness and grace of God permeates all of his creation and is available to all who have the wisdom to search it out. It may take a little digging, a little searching or some sorting out but everyone has access to the good of the Kingdom of God. Of course, one has to look in the right place and make the right choices to be able to discover the good and benefit from its blessings.
If one is not enjoying the good of God’s creation, it is not because God is withholding the good from us but is more likely to be the problem that we are looking in the wrong place or that we are making poor choices in our lives. If we dig deeper in life and throw away that which is worthless in our lives then we will be more able to find the true treasure in life that is hidden around us. The things that the world places value upon often do not bring us true happiness. We can seek our happiness in power, riches, social position or other possessions but these things often turn out to be of no true worth in the eternal Kingdom because they are all temporary and fleeting experiences of life. They do not bring true satisfaction as they lead us to just want more and more, and they feed our fears and insecurities. In the companion reading to our gospel taken from the Book of Kings, we see the wisdom of Solomon who chooses to ask God for an understanding heart rather than for something selfish and fleeting. The true treasure of life comes from a wise and understanding heart that seeks to serve and not to be served, in the manner of Jesus the Lord; a wise and understanding heart that knows what is right and what is good and can pursue that above all other things. St. Paul reminds us that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” The true good of the Kingdom comes from a heart that is filled with the love of God and is seeking God’s will and truth in all things.
Our true heart’s desire is in our own back yard, in the depth of our hearts and in the relationships that we have with those around us. The good of the Kingdom of God is not far from us and its secrets can be discovered by a wise and understanding heart. We are all rich if we realize the blessings of God and if we discover his grace at work in our lives. As Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, we must seek first the Kingdom of God and then every good thing will be available to us.