In Gospel reading (Matthew 13:44-52), Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like a buried treasure, a pearl purchased at all cost, and a net from which the bad catch of fish will be tossed away and the good catch will be valued.
In other words, our Christian lives are a huge cache of valuables. If our treasure chest has any worthless trash, the garbage needs to be tossed away to make room for more valuables. Some of our treasures have only temporary, earthly value, and ultimately they will be worthless unless they’re used for the kingdom of God.
The reading from Romans tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love God. As we purge our lives of false pearls and dead fish, we become more like our Lord. We become more useful to the kingdom of God. Even the bad things that happen to us, under the creative hand of our all-powerful, mercifully loving God, get put to good use as polishing cloths that brighten our pearls and bring out from us a better shine.
In the reading (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12), Solomon could have asked God for great wealth and he would have received it, but he asked for an understanding heart so that he’d have wisdom to rule the nation well. Even though he ruled imperfectly, his reputation as the wisest king on earth spread throughout the known world and he accumulated great wealth.
This is meant to teach us that when we seek first the treasures of God’s kingdom, then we can safely use the treasures of the earth, because God’s wisdom guides us in using them for the benefit of his kingdom. The more we love Christ and follow his ways, the easier it is to identify what’s really valuable, separate out the junk that does not belong to God, and use everything else for his purposes.