A kingdom made in heaven – Wednesday, 17th Week in ordinary time – Mt 13:44-46
Today’s reading allegorically fits in beautifully with fidelity in a relationship. For the kingdom of heaven is like the spouse one clings to, forsaking all others, having realized the worth and the value of the loved one.
The Gospel of today is a meditation; not only on the kingdom but also the subjects of the kingdom. Jesus uses two examples to make a point. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field which a man finds, and to a pearl of great price that a man seeks passionately.
In one case the kingdom is stumbled upon and in the other, it is actively sought. In either case, the person having found it, realizes the great value at hand and then does the next obvious thing; even if that would involve a great deal of inconvenience.
Palestine was a hot bed for civil and political unrest. Its geographical location made it the default route to be taken, if you were marching to war against one of the great empires that surrounded this tiny nation. War would bring plunder, and the best safe deposit vault was a natural one; dig a hole and hide it in the earth.
But wars also had the ability to change the landscape. ‘X’ no longer marked the spot, for ‘X’ could have been a tree that was uprooted as a consequence of the war and with it, the location lost forever; that until someone came digging.
The question of the man’s ethics in the parable comes into play. Should he not return the lost treasure to its rightful owner? So assuming the owner is unknown, he does the next best thing. He sells everything he owns in order to buy the land, thus securing the treasure legally. Here in lies the lesson to be learnt and lived. The man’s present holdings may have been a trifle to what he discovered, but he has to let go of one completely to secure the other; be it a treasure or a pearl of great price.
This is the demand that Jesus makes from His subjects in the kingdom. You can’t hold on to your former way of life after having found Jesus and His kingdom. Whatever we hold on to now, our money, profession, position or post, is a pale shadow compared to having stumbled or found Jesus and His kingdom. There is a vow as solemn as marriage that is called for; a ‘forsaking all others’ to be with Jesus.
Jesus understood the attachments we have to our human treasures; frivolous as they may be in the larger picture of life. It is for this reason that He constantly appeals for a detachment from these earthly treasures and to be attached to heavenly promises. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Again, Jesus will tell the rich young man, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” He was clear, let go of the dime if you want the dollar.
Jesus is clearly laying down the cost of discipleship. This cost seems demanding now, but not without a greater good that lies in the immediate future. Our failure to live the wisdom of His words would only find us, ‘storing for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal’.
Finding ‘Him’ is a marriage made in heaven, now for the ‘forsaking all other’ part….
Fr Warner D’souza