Sunday July 26

Gospel according to Matthew 13:44-52

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; they hide it again, go off happy, sell everything they own and buy the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ they said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well, then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

I hear this Gospel reading as an invitation. What is my hidden treasure? What do I desire?

In this parable neither the labourer nor the merchant can gain immediate possession of what each so eagerly desires,yet by following their desires they discover a radical freedom.

Jesus continues to teach his disciples about the mystery of being in relationship with God in parables. In these parables of the treasure and pearl of great value, he illuminates the hidden character of the mystery of God, as well as the inestimable value of knowing God. 

In the parable of the dragnet, like last week’s Gospel with the parable of the sower, Jesus emphasises that God’s place is for everyone. All of us come within the net of the mystery of our Creator God, however openness is necessary to be receptive to God’s love and goodness, otherwise one will be separated from God and others. Jesus also explains how evil will not  prevail. Evil will eventually be conquered by love. Knowing that we are part of a larger story can give comfort when surrounded by forces of evil and oppression.

Mary Ward knew these oppressive forces but held on to the larger story and treasure that she knew with heartfelt knowledge. Her treasure led to a radical freedom.

“I experienced that He was very near to me, which I never perceived Him to be before. I saw Him evidently and very clearly go into my heart and by little and little hide Himself: He held my heart.”[1]

Finally, with the parable of the householder and storeroom, Jesus shows the disciples how even though his teaching is grounded in tradition, it is radically fresh. Tradition is of value but there is also newness held within the realm of God’s love. I believe we live in a pivotal time in history, where it is necessary to both hold to some of our helpful tradition but most importantly to discover what is radically fresh and innovative that is emerging. 

[1]  Mary Ward 1585-1645