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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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Homily for 27 July 2022, Wednesday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Mt 13:44-46

Either the treasure or the pearl of great price is yours, only IF YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE for it. It goes the same way with the kingdom of God. This is the main point of the two brief parables in our Gospel today.

As narrated by Jesus, both parables are very brief but quite well packed; we have to UNPACK THEM. If you think it is about literal treasures and pearls, you miss the point! We are dealing here with parables that requires some imagination. It is about the kingdom of God!

He says, it is “like a treasure buried in a field which A PERSON FINDS, and HIDES AGAIN.” You are supposed to react to and ask, “But why did he bury it again if he had found it already?” And the answer is simple: because he did not own the land. This man is not a thief. Most likely he had found the treasure because he had been hired to work on the land. He wasn’t there looking for a treasure, in the first place.

I imagine that it is the owner who is busy looking for a treasure somewhere else; and so he has no time to work on his own land. It is like that; sometimes there are people who don’t even realize they have a treasure lying right there in their own backyard, just waiting to be found. Meaning, they don’t realize how blessed they are. They own things but they do not know what they are worth. They probably think the effort is too much and the gain is too little. I know of a very poor couple who really invested the little that they had to support the education of their son, who showed a superior level of intelligence from the time that he was a little boy. That son is now a well-known surgeon in a public hospital, the pride of his humble parents.

The finder in the story of the treasure hidden in a field is most likely an agricultural worker who is just paid to till the land for the owner. And his master who probably has never worked on his own land, is only too eager to sell the land away because he has his mind set on finding a treasure in other places.

Did the finder cheat the owner? No, he did not. He did not steal the treasure; he put it back where he had found it and hid it again. I suppose he got the treasure only later after he had already bought the field. And he must have borrowed a big sum of money to be able to buy it. The money he loans is nothing, compared to the true value of a piece of land that is hiding a treasure that now belongs to him. It is like that with the kingdom of God, says Jesus.

The same lesson is repeated with the second parable of the pearl of great price. The finder does not find the pearl himself. Somebody else had it but probably also did not know what it was worth; he did not have the eye for the truly rare pearls. The point is, the real finder is the one who is willing “to sell all he has and buy it,” because he knows it is worth much more than what he can possibly spend on it.

What an excellent storyteller Jesus is! Of all kinds of precious jewels like stones, metals and objects, he used the image of the pearl. I wonder if people were aware, already back then, that a pearl was a product of so much pain. It begins with a tiny grain of sand or dirt that gets lodged like a splinter in the flesh of a young oyster or shellfish. There is no way it can get rid of it. It gets stuck in there like a thorn in the flesh. The poor shellfish copes with the pain by secreting some white enamel-like substance and coating the grain of sand with it until it solidifies and grows bigger and bigger. The greater the pain, the greater the pearl.

The most beautiful people whom I have met in this world are people who have been through so much pain and have been purified by it. They have paid the price and they silently glow from inside, unable to hide the joy of having found their treasure. It is like that for people who have found the kingdom of God.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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