The archaeologist Carter remained for some moments stunned, shocked, almost paralyzed when he introduced a candle in a hole in the untouched tomb of Tutankhamun. He saw the richest treasure ever discovered. The three friends who were with him insistently asked, anxious to know what had bewitched him. He managed to stammer, “Wonderful things, wonderful things!” Were it not for this treasure of Tutankhamen—a pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, who died at nineteen years old—we barely would remember the name.
Solomon lived in pomp: “I have acquired—he said—silver and gold, the treasure of kings and nations and what most delights people” (Ecl 2:8), but these treasures did not make him famous.
“Treasure” is the most recurrent epithet on the lips of lovers. You cannot live without tying your heart to a treasure; not even God can help it, in fact, “he has chosen Israel as his possession” (Ps 135:4). The treasure of the wise is wisdom: “Not worth mentioning are coral and jasper; the price of wisdom is above the biggest pearl. The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it; it cannot be valued in pure gold” (Job 28:18-19). The rabbis devoted time and energy to it because it is written, “meditate on it day and night” (Jos 1:8) and commented: “Go and look which hour is neither day nor night and consecrate it to other sciences.”
In choosing the treasure one can also be fooled because it is easy to get dazzled, and trust in what is inconsistent, unreliable. Jesus warns us: “Do not store up treasures for yourself here on earth, where moth and rust destroy it, and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it. For where your treasures is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:19-21).
Life is to be invested, one has to choose; one needs to wage on a treasure. Which one?
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Teach us to number our days that we may gain the wisdom of our heart.”
The creative work began with the separation of light from darkness (Gen 1:4). The firmament was placed to separate the waters that are above the sky from those found on earth (Gen 1:6-7); God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night” (Gen 1:14). At the end of these separations, the sacred author says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
From that day, man, perhaps, unconsciously feared that opposites could merge again and bring chaos, the disorder that made life impossible. He is instinctively induced to erect fences and establish a separation between good and evil, pure and impure, saints and wicked, God’s friends and his enemies. Some superficially interpreted texts of the Bible seem to approve such discrimination: “You are to be holy for me as I am holy, Yahweh, your God, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine” (Lev 20:26).
The world came out good from the hand of God. However, the presence of evil remains an enigma, a disturbing element that man cannot stand. He is impatient as the servants in the parable. He asks himself: “Where did the weeds come from?” Frenzy, to immediately solve the tensions he experiences, takes over him. He ends up resorting to worse remedies of evil. He becomes intolerant and ruthless with himself and with others. He punishes cruelly, launches holy wars and gets carried away by anger that “never fulfills the justice of God” (Jas 1:20).
In this way he commits two errors. He does not accept serenely the reality of the world in which good and evil are destined to live together and confuse the growing season with the harvest.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The presence of evil in the world does not endanger the success of the kingdom of God.”
Not much. Dejected and disappointed, the psalmist kept repeating: “Help us, O Lord, none of the godly are left, the faithful have vanished. Everyone lies; with flattering lips they speak from a double heart” (Ps 12:1-2). Today, the word continues to be devaluated: One does not believe in the promises. One feels secured only by written and signed documents: We hear “deeds and not words,” repeated.
Is it so with the word of God?
This refrain is repeated ten times in the first chapter of Genesis: “God said … and so it happened.” “The heavens were created by his word. For he spoke and so it was, he commanded and everything stood firm” (Ps 33:6.9). His word is not like that of man’s. It is living and effective, implements what it announces, does not lie nor disappoint.
The Greek mystic proposed to enter into a relationship with God through visions, ecstasies, raptures, paroxysmal trance. Biblical spirituality instead puts listening in the first place, because it is convinced of the absolute reliability of God’s word.
“Hear, o Israel” is the most beloved prayer of the Jewish pity (Dt 6:4). “Hear the warning of Yahweh” recommend the prophets (Is 1:10, Jer 11:3). “Obedience (listening) is better than sacrifice,” says Samuel (1 S 15:22). “Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire: but my ears you have pierced” says the Psalmist (Ps 40:7).
In the Bible, listening does not mean to receive a communication or information, but to adhere to, to receive, to keep in one’s heart and put into practice a proposal. It is equivalent to granting trust to God.
Those who listen to his word with these provisions are blessed (Lk 11:28).
To internalize the message, we repeat: “A fertile ground, receptive to the word of God, is present even in the most hardened sinner.”