17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – year A

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well, then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

Matthew 13:44-52

Unique to the Gospel of Matthew, the parables of the buried treasure and the pearl convey the priceless nature and value of faith. These two, which are the shortest of the parables, were used by Jesus to reveal that it is the Kingdom of Heaven that should be the object of our desire and the source of our joy.

What do we value? What gives us joy? What is the source of our hopes and our aspirations?

Far too often we are drawn to things of this world which are shallow and transitory, ones which only provide fleeting moments of happiness. Although alluring, the objects of our desire often leave us empty and unfulfilled. True joy comes from and is found in Jesus Christ. When we become aware of this reality we will be satisfied with him alone. We will then experience the same joy as the man who discovered the buried treasure and we will make the same sacrifices as the merchant who sold all of his possessions.

Faith in Jesus Christ sustains and nourishes us, ultimately preparing us for the Kingdom of Heaven. We must safeguard this treasure of ours through prayer, the regular reception of the sacraments, and acts of charity, for “faith without good works is dead” (James 2:17).

How do we value this treasure of ours? Are we like the man who buries his treasure in the field to ensure that it is his and his alone or do we share our treasure, our gift of faith, with those we know?

Ultimately, Christian maturity is evidenced by a faith that is self-giving rather than self-serving. In light of this we are called to share the blessings we have received and the treasure we have found. In this way we will become true disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven and we will lead others to this same joy.

Anthony Cleary
Director – Mission and Identity