The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Moments ago, we asked Almighty God to make us worthy, by the gift of his grace, to be found “heirs to the treasures of heaven” (Collect). What are these treasures of heaven?
When we think of treasure, we often think of the storehouses of kings and the mountains of wealth accumulated by dragons. The treasures of heaven, however, cannot consist in these works of precious metals and jewels because Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Moreover, he also warned us, saying, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). If we attempt to store up such treasures for ourselves, we have no way to know when a band of dwarves might be overcome with the dragon sickness and rob us of our hoard, or when we might ourselves fall prey to the dragon sickness and we come to be possessed by the things we seek to possess. What, then, are the treasures of heaven?
We can find some glimpse of the treasures of heaven in the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After she and Saint Joseph lost the Boy Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem and after they found him again, the Evangelist Saint Luke tells us that Mary “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Other translations tell us she “pondered” or “treasured” all these things in heart. But what sort of things did she keep in her heart? Surely, she kept the words of her Holy Child and of Saint Simeon and Saint Anna in her heart. The treasures of heaven, then, are the words and deeds of Jesus, indeed, his very person. Is he not himself the “pearl of great price” for which a wise merchant “goes and sells all that he has and buys it” (Matthew 13:46)? Is it not the Lord Jesus who is that “treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys the field” to acquire that treasure (Matthew 13:44)? How, then, can you and I find this treasure? How can you and I have the joy of obtaining the treasure of Jesus?
Yesterday, the Holy Father Pope Francis indicated one important way for us to do so. The Press Office of the Holy See announced that
the Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael [the] Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.
In doing so, Pope Francis has also asked us to conclude the recitation of the rosary in the month of October with the ancient invocation to the Blessed Virgin: “We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.” He has also asked that we follow this invocation with the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.
Lamentably, the Holy Rosary has fallen into disuse in recent decades, with many Catholics no longer even knowing the basics of how to pray this time-honored and beloved prayer of the Church. Forty-five years ago, Pope John Paul I suggested a few reasons why many Catholics no longer pray the rosary:
They say: ‘It is an infantile prayer, superstitious and unworthy of adult Christians.’ Or else: ‘It is a prayer that is robotic, one that ultimately comes down to a cold, monotonous and boring repetition of Hail Marys.’ Or else again: ‘It is a custom from a bygone age. Today we can do better: reading the Bible, for example, which is to the Rosary what fine flour is to bran.’
Before he addressed these criticisms, Pope John Paul I rightly said, “the crisis of the rosary is not the main issue. What takes precedence today is the crisis of prayer in general. People are wholly taken up by their material interests, they think very little of their souls. Noise has gradually invaded our existence.” Not much has changed these past few decades.
At its heart, the rosary is prayer in a simple form. It is not an childish form of a prayer, but one that springs from the heart of a heart. John Paul I put it this way, in very moving and honest words:
Personally speaking, when I talk to God and the Blessed Virgin alone, I prefer to feel like a child rather than an adult. The mitre, the skullcap, the ring disappear; I send the adult off for a walk and even the bishop with all his grave and ponderous dignity, so that I might abandon myself to God, even if it be for a short half hour, I prefer to be what I am in reality, with all my wretchedness and any merits I might have. To feel the child I once was being reborn from the depths of my being, the child who wants to laugh, chatter, to love the Lord, who sometimes feels the need to cry so that he may obtain forgiveness – all this helps me to pray. The Rosary, a simple and easy prayer, also helps me to become a child again, and I am not ashamed of it.
If this is the case, why do so many Catholics today have difficulty praying the rosary? It might be because they do not to adopt the lack of control so characteristic of children.
Those who have grown fond of the passing of beads through the fingers know that “the Rosary does not require any special preparation, and the petitioner does not need to generate thoughts of which he is not capable at the moment or at any other time. Rather, he steps into a well-ordered world, meets familiar images, and finds roads that lead to the essential.” Of itself, the rosary “has no goal but a depth. To linger in it has great compensations.” Too many people overlook this simple fact:
The Rosary is a prayer of lingering. One must take one’s time for it, putting the necessary time at its disposal, not only externally but internally. One who wants to pray it rightly must put away those things that press upon him and become for a time purposeless and quiet. This is necessary, whether he has thirty or ten minutes at his disposal. Neither should he attempt too much. It is not necessary to ramble through the whole Rosary; it is better to say only one or two decades, and to say them right.
It is through the rosary that we sit at the feet of our Blessed Mother and learn in her school of love.
Within her quiet school, Mary teaches us “to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.” She shows us how to ponder the treasures of Jesus’ words and deeds and to acquire them for ourselves. This is why Pope Saint John Paul II said the rosary “belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”
To look upon the Face of God is the deepest longing of every human heart and the prayerful recitation of the rosary can help prepare us to look upon so great a treasure. It is through the rosary that we learn
To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ’s face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Let us, then, both as individuals and as families, pray the rosary each day of October. May Holy Mary show us the face of her beloved Son and teach us to imitate him in all things. Following her example and turning our gaze away from the enticements of the Enemy and toward Christ, may we become heirs of the treasures of heaven. Amen.
 “Pope Francis invites the faithful to pray the Rosary in October,” Vatican News, 29 September 2018.
 Pope John Paul I, Homily, 7 October 1973.
 Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1998), 44.
 Ibid., 45.
 Ibid., 58.
 Pope Saint John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 1.
 Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 9.