Treasures new and old

Published July 25, 2020, 10:20 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Matthew 13:44-52 [or 13:44-46]

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

True treasure hunters

The Gospel begins with the two briefest of Jesus’ parables; they are unique to Matthew. They question us on what we claim as our “treasure.” Jesus speaks to us as his disciples, focusing our attention on the truly valuable in life—real treasure, not some ephemeral possessions.

We could easily be distracted with the words “hidden treasure” and begin thinking about the fabled Yamashita gold treasure. The Gospel, however, directs our attention to the true treasure and the priceless pearl; it is none other than the Kingdom of Heaven. To possess God, to share his friendship, to love him and to seek to do his will—this is to have genuine treasure, the only wealth worth possessing. How do we Christians set about our “treasure hunt”?

First, we find this treasure, like both the farmer and the merchant in the Gospel, as we faithfully go about our daily tasks. The Kingdom is discovered in the course of daily activities, done with dedication and service. Note that Jesus’ parables emphasize that the Kingdom (God’s rule and active presence in our lives) is given by God. It is God’s Kingdom; it is a gift. We freely receive it with great joy.

Realizing the priceless value of God’s Kingdom, the disciple responds by doing everything possible to possess it; both farmer and merchant (symbols of Jesus’ disciples) sell everything they own, just to possess the Kingdom. Yes, we are asked to give our whole selves, and, in return, we will receive the whole of God. We can recall the attitude of the apostle Paul, who counted as garbage everything except “the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). Nothing we will ever give up will be nearly as valuable as what we receive.

This search for the treasure and pearl of great price is a lifelong pursuit. The disciple must be decisive, resourceful, and willing to risk everything. It is a joy to seek God with our every energy, every decision, every hope, and every desire. Indeed, discipleship will be costly, as Bonhoeffer noted, and there is no “cheap grace.” Yet, we pray to sincerely seek God and his Kingdom—without always counting the cost. Jesus reminds us: “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:21).

We pray: Lord, help us to rejoice that we possess the treasure of faith; make us enthusiastic to joyfully share this precious gift.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2020,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: