The Treasures of Life – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Matthew 6:19-23

At the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew, we learn of the wise men who came from the East to pay homage to the infant, Jesus, predicted to be the “king of the Jews.” We read they bring with them treasure-chests of gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts for the newborn.[i] We are never told what happened to all that gold, frankincense, and myrrh; however we can infer something based on this Gospel passage we have just heard. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph did not keep these treasures.

This same Greek word for “treasure” is used by Jesus in the Gospel lesson appointed for today: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but rather store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”[ii] A treasure is what we could supremely value in life. Many things could be treasured, not just tangible things symbolized by the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but also the treasured intangible things that may come from our race or ethnicity, our gender, our education, our good looks, our age, our fancy title. Whatever. Treasures in life come in many forms.

Two things to remember about life’s treasures:

For one, to bear in mind the source of life’s many treasures: God being the source and we being the temporary custodians of these treasures. We are not the creators of life’s treasures and we have a terminal relationship with every thing in this life. Identifying the treasures in our own life invites our humility, not our pomposity.

And so, secondly, that we cultivate treasures on earth that have a kind of eternal value. Life’s priority is to claim and cultivate the treasures on earth that can follow us to heaven. Saint Paul gives his own list of earthly treasures which are heaven-bound. He calls these earthly-eternal treasures “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”[iii]

Another version of what to treasure in life comes from David Brooks, the New York Times’ columnist.[iv] Brooks makes the distinction between our résumé virtues and our eulogy virtues. Résumé virtues are the experiences, skills, and assets that we bring to the marketplace and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. Eulogy virtues get talked about at our funeral, the virtues that exist at the core of our being and which are revered. Brooks’ list of “eulogy virtues” sound a lot like Saint Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit.”

And you? Consider making a list of your own treasures, of earth and heaven. How are you to be custodian of earth’s treasures, which are very temporary? And see your earthly treasures in the context of what has eternal value. Focus your life prioritizing, practicing, and praying these heaven-bound treasures.


[i] Matthew 2:1-12.

[ii] “treasures”: θησαυροὺς = thēsaurous.

[iii] Galatians 5:22-23.

[iv] David Brooks in The Road to Character (Random House, 2015).

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