There is a Latin American proverb that says, “The only treasure that survives after we are gone is all that we have given.” When we think of all the energy, effort, time and money we put into amassing what we consider to be treasures in our lives, this saying can help to put things in perspective. We have certainly heard many times, in reference to our money or other material goods, another saying, “You can’t take it with you.” While this is true, it does not invite us to consider, what in fact we can take with us and what exactly it is that we are leaving to our families, friends and the bigger world.
This is where the words of Jesus in the Gospel can be most helpful. He says the kingdom of God is like a man who finds a treasure buried in a field so he sells everything he has in order to buy it. He also talks about a merchant in search of fine pearls who finds one of great value, so he sells all of his possessions to make the purchase (Matthew 13:44-52). The kingdom of God is about helping to bring about a world that thrives with what God treasures. What God treasures are not money and things. God treasures generous, virtuous living. God treasures courage and self-giving that is willing to bear the cost of building a world that is short on riches for the few and full of a more equal distribution of the world’s goods so that nobody goes without. Rather than building walls of false security, God treasures our capacity to find ways to welcome the stranger and uphold the dignity of human life.
What we do take with us are our lives well lived. We take with us our lives that were willing to give everything we could in order to leave the world a better place because we were here. Through our lives here, we have the opportunity to present before God lives that treasured what God treasures. What we leave here, as the saying goes, is the only treasure that survives which is all that we have given. The cost to leave that treasure may be significant. How very worth it, knowing that the generosity of our lives will be someone else’s treasure after we are gone.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector