A treasure, a treasury (i.e., storage place for valuables)
A Clever Verse for Context
Store up for yourselves treasures (thēsauros) in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20)
Once a month, time permitting, I help work the parking lot at the food distribution at Christ the King, getting people signed in to receive a box of food. Over the last few years I have gotten to know the people this program serves. I have talked with them, prayed with them, and been introduced to their various pets. Sometimes, on bad days, I wonder if this ministry is making any real difference in the community. The people we serve continue to struggle and one box of food is not going eradicate decades of health problems or solve the problem of generational poverty. But then there the little things: prayers shared and answered in the church parking lot, making faces at kids I know from the community, and the realization that every interaction has the potential to make someone's day just a little better. These, I think, are the treasures in heaven that Jesus is talking about. Moments which may not seem to make all that much of a difference, but are nevertheless holy. Of such treasures is the Kingdom of God made.
In ancient Greece, a city state would build a treasury (thēsauros) at the sanctuary of a god. Citizens of that city-state would then place their offerings to the god in that building. You can see these kinds of treasuries still standing at sacred sites such as Delphi, where worshippers left offerings to the god Apollo (deity of prophecy, music, and the bow).
What do you treasure? Where do you store it?
What are moments that you treasure? How has memory sustained you in times of difficulty?
A Clever Prayer to Close
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
This prayer was first presented by Cardinal Dearden in 1979 and quoted by Pope Francis in 2015. This reflection is an excerpt from a homily written for Cardinal Dearden by then-Fr. Ken Untener on the occasion of the Mass for Deceased Priests, October 25, 1979. Pope Francis quoted Cardinal Dearden in his remarks to the Roman Curia on December 21, 2015. Fr. Untener was named bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, in 1980.