Sunday, 26 July 2020

Week 17 Sunday (Year A)

Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 (or 13:44-46)

Solomon is remembered for his wisdom and because of this reputation most of the wisdom literature of the Bible is attributed to him. For him the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field of this world, was the wisdom and understanding needed to govern well. The Lord is pleased with his request and gives him a heart that is wise and understanding.

The person who finds the treasure hidden in a field is, Jesus tells us, filled with joy. He is transformed, his life radically changed, as he goes and sells everything in order to buy the field. The merchant is in a different situation since his job is to look for pearls. He spends his life searching and eventually finds one of great value. We are not told about his joy but we can presume it, as he too goes, sells all he has, and buys the pearl.

In one case we are told that the Kingdom of Heaven is like the treasure, in the other case we are told that the Kingdom is like the merchant searching. So the Kingdom is in the relationship between people and something of great value that gives them joy and becomes the exclusive focus of their lives, their obsession.  It might come their way fortuitously or as a result of long searching. Either way it becomes the exclusive focus of their lives from that moment onward.

So God became the exclusive focus of Moses’ life after his encounter with Him in the burning bush. So too for David and for Solomon who in spite of their many other distractions and weaknesses remained focused on the Lord and His intentions for His people. Even more so was the Father the exclusive focus of the life of Jesus from the earliest moment of his existence.

We are left with questions about the man who found the treasure and the merchant searching for pearls. What did they want these riches for? Solomon's request makes sense for a man in his position. For the treasure-finder and the pearl-seeker, it seems that it was enough for them to possess such great wealth.

With the treasure of the Kingdom, or the treasure entrusted to Moses by God, or the wisdom entrusted to Solomon by God, or the mission entrusted to the apostles by Jesus, we have the words of the scriptures to teach us why the Kingdom is the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price. They teach us why the Kingdom is worth searching for. It is because it means life for human beings, the fullness of life for human beings, eternal life for human beings. Knowing the Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent: this is eternal life, says Jesus at the beginning of his priestly prayer in John's gospel. The law and the prophets and the writings are worth exploring, valuing, studying and putting into practice. The words of the scriptures are the field in which we search for the treasure. Why search there, someone might ask? With Peter we can reply: where else can we go? the scriptures are all about Jesus and it is he who has the words of eternal life.

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