Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:44-52
Last Sunday we were encouraged not to be discouraged and be frightened by the presence of evil around us in our striving to bear good fruits in a sinful world. Today, Jesus still uses parables to teach us that only a disciple who gives up everything, will possess the kingdom.
It is well known that first century Romans buried their valuables in clay pots in the ground. Under Rabbinic law, if a labourer discovered a buried treasure and lifted it out, what is found would belong to the owner of the land who is typically a Roman citizen. In this parable, the finder does not lift the buried treasure out until he owns the land! Jesus focused on the labourer’s joy of discovery and subsequent action to acquire the land. What is the meaning of the parable? In His comparison of the kingdom of heaven as a treasure hidden in a field that is discovered by a man and hidden again, Jesus is emphasizing the desirable worth of the kingdom of heaven. In His description of the labourer who is joyful of the find and sells all that he has to buy the land, Jesus is placing a context to the value of the kingdom of heaven; no earthly possession is worth more.
The Parable of the Costly Pearl emphasizes the supreme value of the kingdom of heaven. The merchant intentionally seeks the best, and when he finds it, he sells all earthly possessions, even to the point of being destitute, to acquire it.
Child of God, why did Jesus pair it with the Parable of the Hidden Treasure? In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, a man accidentally discovers something valuable. In the Parable of the Costly Pearl, the man is searching for something valuable. In like manner, one may hear of the good news when he least expects it or when he might be searching for the truth amidst the marketplace of ideas. While the juxtaposition contrasts how they come about their treasure, it stresses what they have in common. They had the ability of spiritually discerning what was truly valuable. They know that the treasures of the kingdom are much more valuable than all earthly possessions, as such they, like St. Francis of Assis, could surrender everything – power, money, etc., in order to possess the kingdom of God. Our choices reflect our values. When we choose to make money or succeed by all means, including means that are contrary to kingdom ethics, it shows that our heart is not yet a fertile soil for God’s word to bear fruit. How often are our hearts attached to earthly things and goods. Worldly pleasures lure us and we forget that we are not made for this world but for heaven. Only disciples who have fully surrendered all, who can leave every other thing, stand the chance of possessing the kingdom.
MASS: GREEN 1 Kgs. 3:5.7-12; Ps. 119:57.72.76-77.127-128.129-130(R.97a); Rom. 8:28-30; Accl. Matt. 11:25; Matt. 13:44-52; Or 13:44-46
Prayer Points:
Thank God for His Word today.
Pray for Mercy for the times you have treasured earthly possessions at the expense of the kingdom.
Pray for the spirit of detachment from created things.
Pray for the grace to fix your mind on treasures above.
Surrender all things to God; tell God to help you to let go of earthly treasures.
Exercise: Resolve to give up anything or activity that are inimical to the kingdom.
Meditation: Luke 14:33.