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TREASURES FROM THE PARABLES ...
Pearl of Great Price
17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
Our readings this Sunday are filled with treasures. It is for this that I decided to start this homily with a little treasure hunting. There are three hidden colored boxes placed in three different places in our Church this [evening/morning]. And in order for you to be able to get those treasures, I would like to ask all of you to look for those three boxes underneath your pews.
To those who got the chests congratulations, you now have the chance to claim the treasured price!
Box 1 (Yellow): [Is there something valuable a thing that you yearn having in your life right now? What is it? What are you going to do in order to have it?]
The Parable of the Treasure Hunter. For safety reasons, the people of Palestine deemed it well to bury their treasures like money and jewelry in their fields. At times unclaimed and forgotten, the hidden treasures awaited some lucky finder. In this parable, Jesus narrates the same story of a lucky treasure-finder who sold everything he had in order to get ownership of the field. Palestinian laws of that time would stipulate that one cannot claim ownership of those treasures unless the finder also owned the property in which it was found. We see in this parable an example of someone who recognizes the value of the kingdom of God and gives everything that he/she has in order to possess it.
How valuable is the Kingdom of God for you? What will you do in order to earn it? It took years and a considerable amount of discipline even for Saints to become who they are right now. As it is said, "Rome was not built for a day." They did not become Saints for a day; they became Saints as they did what the treasure hunter did in the parable – to sacrifice everything that they have just so in order to earn the Kingdom of God.
Box 2 (Green): [What is the most valuable possession that you have that you are most willing to protect even with your life? Why is it valuable?]
The Parable of the Pearl Hunter. Clearly, as Jesus used “pearl” as something of “great price,” pearl in those times could really be very precious. Though pearls nowadays have lost much of their value, Jesus used this image in order to tell His disciples that the Kingdom of God is worth all that we have. God’s Kingdom is a unique pearl of greatest price more precious than any jewels in this world.
Is the Kingdom of God worth it? I think it all depends on how we “see” it! If you are watching EWTN, they have a program entitled “The Journey Home” where you can hear testimonies from those who used to be unbelievers. In that program they present their conversion stories. Strikingly, most of them would testify that they found something that’s truly precious in the Sacrament especially the Holy Eucharist. For them, it is their “pearl of great price” more precious than known jewels on earth. Have you found the same worth for the Eucharist as a treasure of the Kingdom? Christ’s death itself has proven such worth.
Box 3 (Blue): [Are you willing to exchange something of great value with anybody? If no, why? If yes, on what conditions?]
The Parable of the Fishing Net. It is a fact that one of the ways of fishing in Palestine is by using a dragnet. Dragnets were tied to two boats and drawn through the water. Whatever the dragnet caught was sorted out afterwards where the edible ones would go to the market while the unacceptable ones would be thrown away. Just as the dragnet collects both the good and bad fishes without any discrimination, so it is in the Kingdom of God. The Church is a mixture of all kinds of people. The parable encourages the Church to an open approach to evangelism especially to inculturation especially to multi-cultural communities. Not only to evangelism but to CHANGES as well whatever they may be.
Last Friday, I attended the first installation of my present Pastor, Fr. Ramon, being the Dean of the area at St. Joachim’s Parish. In that installation, he pointed out the reality of “changes” in any community. Moreover, he remarked that change is good and inevitable. We cannot avoid changes, as they will happen at some point. At the last part of his speech, he finally exhorted, “A true disciple of Christ accepts such changes with an open heart and allows the Spirit to take His course.” Do we have such attitude?
Final Remarks: Jesus gave this final words to His disciples “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” These words are actually very true to Matthew, whose Gospel we just read. Being a tax collector (a profession prone to dishonesty) did not stop him from following Christ and sharing his “gifts” (his talents, skills and even his material possessions) as a tax-collector. Hence, a businessman need not give up his business; rather he should run it as a Christian would. A scholar need not give up his scholarship when he becomes a Christian; rather he should use it for Christ. If you look at it more seriously, this is what the entire of stewardship is all about – to be sharers of our personal gifts not because we own them but because we have been entrusted with such gifts to share them to others.