In our Gospel today we are presented with three more
parables about the nature of the Kingdom. The first two
about the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price
tell us about the inestimable value of the Kingdom. The
third one about the dragnet tells us about the great
diversity of its make up.
I recently visited a most interesting Auction House, I’d noticed it was viewing day and as I was in the vicinity went in to take a look. It’s a fascinating place; there were all kinds of interesting items of furniture as well as a lot of old crockery, jewellery, paintings and many other curiosities.
There’s only one day for viewing so the place was full of people examining the various items they were interested in and making notes in the catalogue.
I watched a chap examining a collection of rather old clocks. He had a magnifying glass in one eye and was carefully peering into the back of each of the clocks to see the state of the mechanism.
He reminded me of the merchant in the parable today looking for the pearl of great price. This clock dealer was using his expert knowledge to see which of the clocks were worth buying. And who knows, one day he might discover a clock worth thousands that no one else has recognised!
This is a very good image for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is all around us but most people aren’t aware of it. But those of us who do realise that it is there do everything we can to possess it.
The majority of people only have the very haziest notion of the spiritual; they think that there might possibly be a God but don’t see much evidence of his hand at work in the world and so forget about him most of the time.
It is often only when there is a crisis that they bring him to mind, but because they are so unfamiliar with the things of the Spirit they don’t know how to pray or call upon his aid.
They don’t realise that one of the greatest signs of God’s presence in the world is the very fact that he doesn’t make himself overtly known.
Clear evidence of God’s presence is that he gives us the tremendous gift of free will and leaves us to make our own decision as to whether we acknowledge him or not.
Paradoxically it is God’s apparent absence that shows how great he is. He doesn’t need to press himself upon us and make himself known. Actually it would be a sign of weakness if he had to constantly advertise himself. He prefers anonymity and ambiguity, he wants us discover him for ourselves rather than force himself upon us.
In ordinary life to give an anonymous gift is regarded as something special. This is particularly the case when the gift is a large one. But most people, quite naturally, want a bit of credit and it is hard for them to resist the temptation to reveal who the giver is.
And yet there is a negative side to making oneself known because it can place an obligation on the receiver of the gift. They might feel that they have to be extremely grateful or obliged give something in return.
This is the very reason why God doesn’t advertise his presence overmuch. If he let us know just how much he has done for us we would feel under such a heavy obligation to him that we would be completely paralysed and wouldn’t be able to do anything other than praise and thank him for the rest of our lives.
In the person of Jesus God has revealed himself definitively to the world. Through Jesus he has shown us what he is like and makes the great sacrifice that takes our sins away. But there is no definitive proof of this; we are invited to take it on faith.
And so the choice rests with us. The invitation is placed before us and it is entirely up to us whether we accept it. We are invited to believe in all that Jesus told us and to embrace the Gospel as our way of life, but there is absolutely no compulsion.
It could be that those of us who have taken Jesus at face value have a special sensitivity to the things of the Spirit or perhaps it is that we are open to the action of God’s grace in our lives.
Whatever the reason, we have come to know God; we have come to appreciate that his Kingdom of love and peace is indeed the “pearl of great price” that we simply must possess.
But unlike the merchants in the story or the man in the auction house we do not only want to possess it for ourselves because we understand that the Kingdom of God is not that kind of thing. It is not something that can be limited only to us; it is something that in order to possess we must share with others.
This is one of the great paradoxes of the Gospel. To possess the Kingdom means to share our knowledge of it with others. To truly believe in Christ means leading other people to the same knowledge; for secret faith is no faith at all.
We need to be like the householder, mentioned at the end of our Gospel reading today, who brings out of his house things both new and old. We should be happy to bring out of the house that is our life all kinds of treasures to share with our neighbours.
But these treasures are not things like clocks and pearls but attitudes and virtues like love and justice and truth and hope and so on. What we bring out from our treasure store are the values of the Kingdom, the attitudes of Jesus and the knowledge of the one true God.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 27, 2014
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A—July 27, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 13:44-52)
The Gospel reading gives us another cluster of parables about the kingdom of heaven, adding to an unusually high number in just one chapter. The first two are very similar. In one, the kingdom is compared to a “treasure buried in a field.” The one who finds the treasure immediately recognizes its great value, so he hides it again, for safe-keeping, and “out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” He is thrilled with the prospect of the riches the treasure will bring him. Knowing its value, he has no trouble selling all his other possessions. Nothing he currently owns is worth more than the treasure in that field. In the next parable, a merchant is out searching for fine pearls. He finds one of staggering quality; he, too, “goes and sells all he has and buys it.” He knows that the pearl of great price will more than compensate him for whatever losses he has to count. What is the message here?
Seventeenth Sunday: Wisdom
This Sunday’s readings begin Solomon’s request for Wisdom and conclude with a summation of the Lord’s teaching on the parables.
At the conclusion of the Dissertation on the parables in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states: “Every scribe of the Kingdom is like the head of the household who brings out from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Jesus spoke to the Jewish people, well versed in Hebrew scripture. The Gospel of Matthew was pointed towards Jewish Christians. Jesus is not replacing what we call the Old Testament with the New Testament. He is combining the best of the Hebrew Scriptures with the New Way, the Kingdom of God. The wise one, the scribe of the Kingdom, therefore, knows how to use what is old and what is new.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Matthew 13: 44-52
The tone of the first reading of today’s mass is shaped by the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, made nearly three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Classical Greek language and culture had a strong intellectual and conceptual focus, often seeking to capture ideas and realities in abstract terms. This stood somewhat in contrast to Hebrew language and thought, which was intensely earthy and visceral. An example of the differences in the Greek and Hebrew ways of thinking shows through in this text from the First Book of Kings. In the translation influenced by Greek idiom we hear King Solomon ask for the gift of “an understanding heart”, whereas in the Hebrew original we read that he asked for “a listening heart”.
Reflections for Sunday, July 27, 2014
Knowing We are Treasured by God
Out of joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
Have you ever noticed how much effort some people put into identifying themselves with certain groups? From social clubs to frequent-flyer programs, from parish committees to social networks, we are all looking for some sense of belonging. But the problem is, for every group that has welcomed you, there are even more that won’t. This is why the gospel truly is good news: Jesus welcomes everyone, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. He has established a group where no one ever has to be turned away.
Jesus is in the House! A Consideration of How Jesus’ Teaching Must Take Place in the Church
In the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, which we are currently going through in daily Mass, there are a number of parables that Matthew seems to have collected from Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Among them are the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and tares, the parable of the mustard seed, and the parable of the yeast.
Another structure employed by Matthew, likely recording the actual practice of Jesus, is the mention of “the house.”
Angels, Our Friends Indeed
Never forget that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son. And he so loved his children, that he gave us each an angel.
I recall scooting to one side in my desk during second grade at St. Albert the Great school to make room for my angel to sit next to me. Our teacher Sr. Annette had just talked to us about our angels and made the suggestion that we could leave room in our seats for our angels to sit next to us. Since angels are spirits without physical bodies, it might seem silly, but I think my angel really did fill in that space next to me.