Behold Him

Part 15

The Hidden Tereasure

Treasure-troves, treasure hunts, secret treasure, buried treasure.
Whose imagination has not been stirred by the thought of finding
some hidden store of wealth?
  Even our Lord used this image:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man finds and covers up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
(Matt. 13:44)

            Think of the amazement of that man over his discovery, the joy that fired him as he went about selling ALL he had to purchase THAT field, the dreams of debts paid, possessions purchased, future security ensured.   If discovering a temporal treasure sets one to such total commitment of assets to insure its possession -- how much more should one commit to finding and possessing the eternal treasure?

 

            St. Clare of Assisi highlighted this priority when she congratulated Agnes of Prague for disposing of her earthly treasures in order to procure spiritual treasure. Clare wrote: I see that by humility, the power of faith and the strong arms of poverty, you have taken hold of that incomparable treasure hidden in the field of the world and of the human heart, with which is bought that through which all things have been made from nothing.

 

            But what IS the incomparable treasure so precious that nothing less than humility, faith and spiritual poverty can take hold of it?  Scholars put forward a number of answers -- the life of most high poverty, the perfection of the holy Gospel, the summit of contemplative prayer.  But St. Clare’s phrasing, which combines allusions to the Gospel of St. John and the Letter to the Hebrews, points to a treasure that is not something but Someone, the Word of God through whom all things were made. 

 

For Clare, JESUS is the Treasure hidden in the field.   He is the Treasure hidden in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Holy Eucharist.  He is the Treasure hidden at the center of God’s creative, redemptive and sanctifying plan for the human family.  Only those armed with humility, the power of faith and the strong arms of poverty can lay hold of this incomparable Treasure, which is concealed from the proud and the powerful.  This hidden Treasure gives meaning and direction to earthly life.  It is the ransom that pays the price of our sins, the Presence that is our pledge of future glory.

 

            But Jesus is not only the Treasure hidden “out there” in the great field of the world.  He is the Treasure hidden deep in the soul of the baptized.  The Lady Clare well knew that the same spiritual “weapons” are needed to take hold of this priceless Treasure within -- humility, faith and poverty. Aware that we carry this Treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7), she strove not only to protect that Treasure but to draw from it in her daily life: The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good. (Matt. 12:35) 

 

            St. Clare reminds us that the spiritual life is a “treasure hunt” in which we seek nothing less than God Himself.  If Christ is the Treasure to be found, then we must seek Him where He is -- in the field of the world, in the field of our own heart.  We need to equip ourselves with the tools that the Seraphic Mother found so indispensable on her spiritual search: humility, faith and spiritual poverty.  We have our Lord’s word that if we seek, we shall find.  Our lives will be enriched beyond all measure by this incomparable Treasure.  Then we shall understand why Jesus said: Where your Treasure is, there will your heart be. (Luke 12:34)

 

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy
300 North 60th Street
Belleville , Illinois   62223-3927   U.S.A.
www.poorclares-belleville.info

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