While convalescing from battle wounds, St. Ignatius of Loyola happened upon a book on saints. He soon realized their stories gave him more joy than stories of worldly glamour. This first conversion experience led him to sainthood.
In St. Matthew’s Gospel, we hear: “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, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
One way to see St. Ignatius’ conversion and Christ’s parable is in light of two heavenly treasures: the kingdom of heaven and sainthood. Both challenge us to ask what we treasure most in life.
Among life’s envisioned treasures are good education leading to prosperity, a loving spouse and children, prominence and accomplishing great feats. No doubt, trophies and academic degrees adorning our offices and homes are cherished treasures, as are hard-earned titles reflecting that we are moving up in the world.
When what we treasure comes and then fades away, what treasures, if any, possess lasting value? What are the most important?
In my life, the most precious memories are people who personified kindness. It took on many forms: a friend promoting my well-being, standing at my side when I was in dire need of support, or just there listening to me.
As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe best summarized it, “Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound.” And we can add that it is a golden treasure.
I also cherish the memory of revered friends who personified truthfulness. The renowned theologian Father Romano Guardini wrote, “Truth gives a man firmness and stability.” Not only did my friends image character, but they motivated me to follow in their footsteps; an inspiration worth its weight in gold.
When we think of treasures we often think of things like pearls and other articles of worth. In using the example of fine pearls, Christ is not pointing us to material things; rather, he is using the idea of preciousness to reflect the pricelessness of those who create the kingdom of heaven on earth by imitating the life of Christ.