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Our Ultimate Treasure

The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44) Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Like all great discoveries, legend has it that the scientific “Archimedean Principle” was hatched by the famous Greek mathematician while he was taking a bath! It seems that Archimedes had been given a problem to solve by King Hiero. The King had ordered a solid gold crown, but he had reason to believe that the person commissioned to fashion the crown was cheating him. He had paid for pure gold, but he suspected that the crown had been partially filled with something of lesser value. Archimedes struggled unsuccessfully with the problem of how to verify the king’s suspicions until one day, as he was bathing, he came to realize that an object would displace its own weight in water. This discovery enabled him to conduct a test later in which, by immersing the crown in a vessel of water, it was established that the king was right: the crown had not been fashioned out of pure gold. The legend goes on to say that when Archimedes made the discovery, he shot out of his tub, and without even stopping to put on his clothes, went running down the streets of ancient Syracuse shouting, “Eureka! Eureka! I’ve found the answer!” We can only imagine the shock and surprise of those who witnessed this triumphant spectacle!

We are constantly reminded that man does not invent everything -- not by a long shot. Like Archimedes' revelation, so many things simply exist -- only waiting to be discovered. Take for example mathematics. I may not be a genius when it comes to algorithms and geometric proofs, but even I can tell that 5x5 would equal 25, whether or not human beings came into existence. Stop and think about this for a minute. What this means is that an extremely large, accurate sub-system of numbers and patterns exist in our world through which we can figure out, not only certain physical laws, but also project data well beyond our own sphere of understanding.

The point is, mathematics existed before we did. So did fire, the mechanics of the wheel, even the fundamental principles of our most powerful [...]

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