Year A: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 13: 44-52
Today, we have another three parables about the Kingdom - a treasure in a field - a pearl of great price - and a dragnet.
The common thread running through them is distinguishing them as treasure - or of value - and then doing something about it.
The man found a treasure in a field. He does not just steal it - but hides it, sells everything else he has and then buys the field so that the treasure can legally be his. We are not told how he found it - nor why the field’s original owner failed to spot it - all we know is that this man did - and invested everything to make it his own.
So, with the merchant - others, presumably saw the same pearl that he saw - but probably decided that the cost was too great. This merchant again, recognises its true worth - and sells everything so that he can invest all he has in it.
Finally, the dragnet brings ashore masses of fish - but not all of any use to sell. The fisherman spends time sifting through his catch to decide what is worth keeping and what can only be thrown away.
Jesus uses this as an image of what happens at the end of time when the angels sort through humanity in a similar way - but also as an image for the scribes to reflect on. He likens them to the householder who goes to the storeroom and selects both what is new and what is old.
The Kingdom is not simply about discarding everything that had gone before - but about selecting what is worth keeping and what can be discarded.
In the 1960s, the Catholic Church faced a similar challenge - what in its long traditions were it pearls and treasures - and what had outlived its usefulness? The “householders” went into the store cupboards and found real treasures - some that had long been “forgotten” - and encouraged the Church to re-invest its energies in those - at the same time letting go of some of the things that had played their part but which has now been built on and renewed.
It was a long - and, in fact remains, an ongoing exercise - but one that is vital to the life of any community. Jesus asks us to look at what lies before us - and to seek out the pearls and the treasures - and then to act to make them our own.
What does it mean for me?
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