17th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
July 26, 2020
The parables of the hidden treasure and of fine pearl are among the shortest yet loveliest parables of Jesus. Finding a fine pearl or a hidden treasure is surely an exciting discovery. We can naturally share the joyful experience. Yet, the key to unlock the secrets of the parables is to spot the surprising twists. If we find a treasure, we instinctively grab it and bring it home. If the treasure is exceedingly huge and many, we can grab some and use them to buy the land. It is a bit reckless to sell everything first and then buy the land. What if the owner of the land suddenly refused to give up the land? The same goes for the purchase of the fine pearl. Sometimes a businessman would make a risky investment to gain more profit. Yet, to throw everything for a pearl is a bit of foolishness. The merchant still needs money to sustain his daily life and business, and what if the investment fails?
Through two parables, Jesus teaches His disciples that His kingdom is immensely precious, and in order to achieve it, we have to give up everything. We cannot cheat or steal it. We have to merit it in the right way. The teaching itself is not something novel in the gospel of Matthew. Back in chapter 10, Jesus tells that those who love their parents more than Jesus, is not worthy of Jesus. It is all or nothing for Jesus. It is the same with His kingdom.
Is it possible to give up everything for Jesus and His Kingdom? The answer depends whether we consider the Kingdom as something truly precious for us. The merchant, for example, may recognize that it is a fine pearl, but if he does not see it as extremely precious, he will not sell everything he has to buy that pearl. To simply know is existentially different from accepting it as precious. One remains in the mind and the other goes down to the heart. We may recognize that Jesus is our Savior and Lord, but do we value Him and make Him as our top priority? We may be aware that the Church is the Kingdom of God, but do we hold her a precious? Do we give up everything for Jesus and His body, the Church?
How do we make something precious? When we love someone or something, we value them. When they are valuable, we treasure them. When they are our treasures, there our hearts are. We see a little child. She loves her toys. These become valuable to her. And as her valuables, she spends her time with them and takes care of them. When we love our work, we value it and we make it our priority. When we love our family, we treasure them, and we exert our time and effort to make them happy.
We may be baptized as a Catholic and our parents teach us that Jesus is our Lord. We may study in Catholic schools and go to the Church from time to time. But, do we love Jesus and His Church? Are Jesus is valuable and precious to us that we are willing to surrender everything for Him? Do we treasure Jesus and place our hearts in Him?
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP