17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A Dominican Friar (Priest) reflects on the Sunday (July 30)  Scriptures

1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12     Romans 8: 28-38     Matthew 13: 44-52

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

For three Sundays, the gospel readings have been parables about the kingdom of heaven. We have heard the Parables of the Sower, Weeds and Wheat, Mustard Seed, Yeast, Buried Treasure, Precious Pearl, and Dragnet. What I find interesting about the telling of the first two parables is that after each one it appears that Jesus provides an explanation for their meaning. However, the Dominican Scripture Scholar, Barbara Reid, OP, reminds us that before the parables were written down, they were told and retold by people who added details according to the circumstances and situations in which they lived. First century story tellers used allegories to connect features of Jesus’ parables with their own political, religious, and community happenings. Barbara goes on to say that people usually see God as the sower in the first parable. It is God, the farmer, who throws the word out to good people as well as to bad people. The parable is an illustration of God’s all-inclusive love for human beings.

In the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, the early Christian community recognized Jesus as the landowner. The field is the world, the good seed is the children of God, and the weeds are evildoers. The parable is an illustration of God’s love for those who endure in a world of evil through their persistent patience and their enduring faith.
With all this said, we come to the Parable of the Buried Treasure and the Parable of the Precious Pearl. These two parables are found only in the Gospel of Matthew and they belong with each other as did the first two parables. The usual interpretation of these two parables is that Jesus is both the hidden treasure and the precious pearl. As we go through life, we are the unnamed person and the merchant who first seek Jesus and then someday find Jesus. It is up to us to sell all that we have to possess him.

But I suggest to you that because God and Jesus are the central characters of the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, when it comes to the Parable of the Buried Treasure and the Precious Pearl, God is the unnamed person who is preoccupied with purchasing the field. God is the merchant who is infatuated with obtaining the precious pearl. In other words, God spends hours admiring the two prizes. God dreams about the two valuables all through the night. Most importantly, God tells Jesus that for the buried treasure and the precious pearl no cost is too great, not even his life. This makes us the valued treasure. This makes us the precious pearl. How then are we promoting the kingdom of heaven through who we are and what we do?

 

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