by Very Rev. Jamin Scott David
Have you ever watched the news and seen those stories about people who win those multi-million dollar jackpots like the Louisiana Lottery, or MegaBucks, or the Powerball? Have you ever wished that you won the prize? You probably did, and you feel like if you won it, you would change things. We whisper to ourselves, “If I were a millionaire, things would be different. I would leave my problems behind. I would pay my bills. I would give stuff to those people who needed it the most!” It’s those ambitions that probably keep the casinos open and the state lotteries in business.
Priests are no different either. I too take the occasional lottery ticket, and I dream. If I won the lottery, I would fix that leaky roof and quickly advance the St. Thomas project. I would fully restore the exterior and the interior. I would buy new vestments; I would take a nice, long vacation.
Maybe we feel like winning because we think we deserve it. The same thing is true of our faith: sometimes, we look at some of our brothers and sisters and are quick to judge that they really don’t need God’s salvation. They really don’t deserve it; they’re simply going to waste it. We have to realize that we really don’t deserve God’s mercy either, but we all stumble across it sometimes in our life, and we are called to be good stewards of it before it is taken away.
The shock value for us is hit home in today’s parable. It starts out with a man who simply runs into a treasure in a field. Even though he’s excited, he hides his joy and the treasure because he doesn’t own the field and he doesn’t want the owner to find out about his discovery. So he later sells everything to go to the bank and buy the piece of land. That tells us something about him even though Jesus never really tells us anything about him: we automatically assume he doesn’t deserve what he’s found.
The interesting part of the parable is that even though he sells everything to buy the treasure, he can never go out and tell anyone else about it. Jewish law stated that if his actions ever were to come out, the treasure would immediately revert back to the rightful owner, and all he would be left with is a plowed up plot a land. The fellow has outsmarted himself. He doesn’t deserve it, and in the end, he really doesn’t possess it. The parable seems to be teaching a lesson: those who steal salvation never really have it to begin with.
That’s when the parable gets to us. Maybe we really don’t deserve it either. Just like the man in the parable, we stumble upon God’s salvation as sinners. We did not labor for it. We don’t have to earn God’s favor. It’s a gift that we stumble upon. When you stumble upon God’s salvation that might seem hidden, what exactly are YOU going to do with it?