Exodus 34: 29-35
Matthew 13: 44-46
The Gospel today presents two brief parables; the treasure hidden in the field, and the pearl of great price. Both are similar to each other, but with interesting differences.
In the parable of the treasure hidden in the field, Jesus tells his disciples a very simple and brief story which could happen in the life of any person. He says: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; someone finds it and hides it again, then he goes off with great joy, he sells everything he owns and buys the field".
Jesus did not go to Webster’s Dictionary for a precise definition of the Kingdom of Heaven. Precision has its place, but here he means to stimulate the imagination.
The treasure, the Kingdom, is found in the field, and also in life. It is hidden. The man finds the treasure just by chance. He did not expect to find it, because he was not looking for it. What does he do? He does what most of us would do in order to take possession of the treasure. He goes and he sells everything that he has and he buys the field.
In the second parable, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value, he goes off with great joy and sells everything he owns and buys it". The merchant’s profession is to look for pearls and he knows their true value. Here the discovery of the Kingdom is not by chance, but it is the fruit of a long search.
The key condition in both parables is to sell everything and in both instances the finder is filled with great joy!! The Kingdom is indeed full of joy. And to enter into that joy will require us to always put God first in our lives…to leave behind all of those things that we once thought would bring us joy. To pursue the Kingdom means that we no longer pursue anything else.
I’m not sure what the disciples thought of this, but we do know that Jesus often talked to them about the profound cost of discipleship. We know today that, as a group, they dropped everything they were doing, deserted their parents, let the fishing business go down the drain, turned over the tables at the accounting firm, and followed him.
Our faith, our vocation, true wisdom, the desire for Heaven, are things which sometimes are discovered suddenly and unexpectedly, and sometimes after much searching. The Kingdom of God comes in inches, and we are challenged to learn to celebrate every small glimpse we can find…like finding the Kingdom in every unemployed person that found a job, every alcoholic who got sober and is free to choose a new life, and every poor child who stayed in school and got an education. There is a price to be paid, but also a great joy to be experienced.
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California