Where are the treasures of the Church? Perhaps you have seen some in art museums. There are stunning reliquaries, beautiful chalices, and intricately decorated liturgical books.
And yet behind glass these treasures appear dead. They sit sadly empty, no longer serving their purpose. Exhibits tend to highlight the illuminations of manuscripts, not the texts monks revered enough to illuminate. Reliquaries are shown without relics and the chalices have not held the Blood of Christ for centuries.
What are the treasures of the Church? Above all, the living God is the treasure of the Church. Artifacts are sold at auctions, but one cannot put a price on the presence of God. He is present in the inspired Scriptures, living and effective. He is present in the souls of the baptized, where the Trinity comes to dwell. He is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And he is present in the poor: “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
Show me the treasures of the Church! In The Golden Legend’s account, St. Lawrence answered this demand of the emperor by showing him the Church’s poor, in whom the grace of Christ lives. The emperor merely wanted dead gold, so he had St. Lawrence roasted alive.
But earlier, another official had asked St. Lawrence the same question. Lawrence gave him an offer: “If you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, I shall show you the treasures, and promise you eternal life.” This man believed and was baptized. He received the treasure of the Church, the grace of Jesus Christ.
The treasures in art museums may sit sadly empty, valued only for their cold gold and old jewels. Our souls, however, can be filled with the greater treasure of grace: a participation in the very life of God.