A Treasure Often Overlooked
Published on September 8-9, 2012 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
It does not seem to be special at first glance. It looks like any old writing desk: it has worn with age; it has gotten battered from use. It has some interesting details; among them are its rococo revival legs with carved acanthus leaves. Its owner sees it as just another outdated furniture in his home, an heirloom that he has kept for sentimental reasons.
Yet, in the eyes of an antique appraiser, it is a rare find. Its Victorian design identifies its maker; its provenance reveals its colorful past. The appraiser sees this desk as more than an outmoded piece of furniture; he knows that it is a piece of history worth thousands of dollars.
Today’s treasures, like that Victorian writing desk, are rarely found buried in a field. A lot of them, as the highly-rated PBS show Antiques Roadshow has shown, are hidden away in attics and basements, or are sitting on a hallway in plain sight. Some are stored away because their owners believe that they are no longer useful; others are kept around the house for show. The value of these treasures goes unnoticed partly because their owners bother themselves with other things that are worth a whole lot less.
Our Catholic faith, like those antiques, is a treasure often overlooked. It is considered by some as just another odd and old heirloom handed down from their grandparents, something that has been around for generations yet lately has fallen out of fashion. Many prefer to keep it for sentimental reasons while others would rather get rid of it because it clashes with everything else that they have. A few take the time to look up its history or to talk to an expert to find out what makes it so special. These are the ones who discover that what they have been given is “a pearl of great price” (Mt. 13:46), a gem so precious that many others have fought and died to preserve it.
It is a tragedy that too many Catholics do not realize that such a treasure is buried in their own backyard, that such a prized pearl is hidden away in their jewelry box (cf. Mt. 13:44-46).
Somehow as a Church we need to help our fellow Catholics perceive what we by grace had uncovered: that there is so much to treasure in what they had overlooked. This means that, like an antique appraiser, we need to know our history so that we may account for the merits of our ancient inheritance. But, this also means that our lives ought to present the witness of a faith that have been tried and tested. Such a faith the Apostle says is more precious than perishable gold (cf. 1 Pt. 1:6-7).
In doing so, we too would discover the mystery that the saints before us had learned: that the more we share this treasure of faith, the less we are impoverished, the more we are enriched.