The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a 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 that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
THE TREASURE AND PEARL
Built into the word ‘treasure’ is the notion of something hidden, but also the notion of something waiting to be found. Perhaps this is why the word treasure is so tempting; it’s an invitation to an adventure, an invitation to seek something. Some “treasures” are small, some are big, each one makes us happy and gives us joy: a new baby in the family, a new car or boat, a bonus in the paycheck. Such treasures may bring changes into our lives to some extent, but more or less we go on living with such treasures being absorbed into our daily lives.
The treasure Jesus is speaking of in this weekend’s parable is a different type of treasure. It is a treasure that has the capacity to change us profoundly from within. Affecting the way we think; the way we treat others; the way we respond to situations in life, both the good and the bad; the way we evaluate what’s important in my life and what’s not; the way we are able to grasp what’s right and what’s wrong.
The man of today’s gospel finds a treasure that will transform his life from within, a treasure that will not remain external to him. And our Lord tells us that a great joy will fill a person’s heart when they obtain this type of treasure. There is another man in another gospel, a young rich man, who is offered this same type of treasure. But he turns down the treasure Jesus offers him, and the Scriptures tells us that he goes away sad because he decided to settle only for external and temporal types of treasures. There is something about the treasures we seek and hold on to that reveals so much about who we are and what type of person we are becoming.
Sadly, many like the rich young man reject God’s type of treasure and cling to external types treasures which are out of our control, and bring us to places we didn’t expect, think for example of the prodigal son whose treasures led him to end up in a pigsty. Disappointment and sadness often follows the attainment of external and temporal treasures, because they didn’t bring us the lasting happiness we expected.
The treasure Jesus offers us is His grace, His love, His family, and His kingdom. Saint Paul said “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Christ living in us and through us is the treasure He offers us. But to obtain and hold on to this treasure, we also need to be willing to divest ourselves of those things which hinder Christ living in us and through us.
The treasure of Jesus when accepted and embraced, frees us from slavery to those things that are sort of worthless in the big picture of life. Jesus offers to each one of us the treasure of His grace and life, a treasure where we find inner peace, joy and strength in good times and even in bad times. May each one of us continue to discover our true happiness in the hidden treasure of Jesus.