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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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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Service, Brotherhood, Giving

“For I gave you an example that you should also do as I did to you” (John 13:15). In the middle of a snow storm, in midtown New York City, a woman stopped her car at a red light and saw “a frail, hunched-over, homeless man wearing an ancient baseball cap and leaning against a stone planter.” A clean-cut warmly dressed, athletic-looking young man moved toward the homeless man. The youth first offered a container of coffee and then placed a packaged cake and napkin on the rim of the planter. He waited for the old man to remove the lid from the coffee and to swallow a sip. He then pressed a dollar and change into the gnarled free hand. The respectful attitude and graciousness with which the gifts were given were obvious. An appreciative smile from deep within transformed the wrinkled face like an unfolding rose. After bestowing a friendly pat on the back, the young man loped across the street as the light changed. No applause, scarcely an audience.

Contemplation

I attempt to look at life in all its richness, seeking to be affected at levels deeper than those of thought. I contemplate The birth of a baby — The parent’s sense of joy and wonder, The celebrations. I contemplate a death — the grief, the sense of loss, the funeral rites. I move from one scene to the other, from the wedding to the ward and back again. I contemplate a sports stadium — the crowds, the players, the cheering, the excitement. I contemplate an old folks’ home — an elderly person sitting at a window reminiscing. I contemplate the swimming pool of a luxury hotel — the sparkling water the sounds of merriment, the bright sun in the sky. I contemplate the slums of the poor — the stench, the people sleeping on the ground, the rats and cockroaches. I contemplate a cabinet meeting in progress: the powerful of the land making decisions that will affect the lives of other people. I move from one scene to the other, looking into the hearts of the persons in the scenes. Then I step back from earth and see these and an infinity of other scenes together and, though I cannot understand it, I see the whole of it as forming one symphony, one harmonious dance: birth and death, laughter and tears, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice — all blending to form a fresco of incomparable beauty, quite beyond the comprehension of my merely human mind. deMello, A. “The Song of the Bird” (Adapted).

Love, Husband and Wife, Quarreling

“You are God’s chosen race, His saints; He loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another, forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins” (Colossians 3:12-13). Veteran comics know that they can always get a laugh by dipping into their storehouse of husband-and-wife jokes — lover ’s quarrels. For example ... “My wife and I had a fight last night.” “How did it end up?” “She came crawling to me on her hands and knees.” “What did she say?” “Come out from under that bed, you coward!” “A lover ’s quarrel,” it has been said, “is like a storm at sea; all the fury is on the surface, but underneath there is a deep current of love.” Engraved on the tombstone of poet Robert Frost are the words: “I had a lover ’s quarrel with the world.” Frost himself chose that epitaph. What it means, really, is that he had a lover ’s quarrel with God. And, whether we realize or not, the same is true of us all. We have an ongoing lover ’s quarrel with the world and with God because of the evil we encounter in our lives. Why is there so much war and hatred? Why so much sickness and sorrow? Why so much anxiety and insecurity? Why so much loneliness and emptiness? Why death? Why did God make such an imperfect world? We lament that the world is not perfect, forgetting that if it were, there might not be a place for us in it and there might not be a place for our loved ones in it, for we all fall short of perfection. It was into this world that we were called. It was into this world that our loved ones were called. Consequently, whenever we quarrel with God’s world, let’s be sure that it’s a lover’s quarrel. Let’s never forget to love this world because it is a gift of Grace; it is a gift of God. Boyd, M., “A Lover ’s Quarrel With the World” (Westminster).

Limitations, Faith, Striving

There is an old oriental saying that goes like this: Consider the worm; his day is two feet long. Meaning, I suppose, just as a worm can do only so much, travel so far, given his physical limitations, so too human beings should learn to submit to their apparent limitations. But Jesus’ Passion Story asks us to change all that. We say, “I can’t do the impossible!” Jesus says, “Follow Me, however impossible it seems.” We say, “but I can’t go too far!” Jesus says, “If anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him” (Mt. 5:41).

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