17th Sunday OTA

1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52

A workaholic man spends every second of the day trying to make more money than Bill Gates. He makes his wife promise to bury him with all his money when the time comes. One given Monday, before his “Week beginning meeting” he dies from a stroke produced by his high levels of cholesterol, stress, and hypertension. During the funeral, the widow approaches and puts a small box next to the coffin. Her mother asks if she had been so silly to bury all the money and she replies: I’m Christian, and therefore I had to keep my promise. i took all his money and put it in my account. Then I wrote a check for the exact quantity, which is inside the box. If he can cash the check, the money is his to spend”.

Wisdom gives us insight into what is truly important in life, an awareness of the meaning and purpose of living, of what really matters. Wisdom is an understanding of where our real well-being and happiness lie. That is why King Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart” to distinguish right from wrong, so that he might govern the people properly. God was pleased with his request and granted him a wise and discerning heart which enabled him to surpass everyone in wisdom.

Wisdom is indeed the “pearl of great price,” that Jesus speaks of. Today we hear three more parables about the kingdom. Third about the net full of fish and anything else that got caught in the net is similar to the parable of the wheat and the weeds we heard last week. The kingdom will be made up of saints and sinners until the end of the world as we know it and God’s kingdom takes over.

Let focus a little bit more on the first two parables: hidden treasure and the pearl of great value. Happiness is within the reach of everyone, however dull, mean or wise they may be. Life is meaningless if it is not happy; where happiness fails, life only a mad lamentable experiment. So, all people search for happiness, though the search itself often becomes the chief source of unhappiness. But just think of for a moment the tremendous joy the two men of the parable in the Gospel must have felt, when on discovered a hidden treasure and the other a priceless pearl!

One discovered the treasure by chance, while the other discovered the pearl by deliberate search. But the joy both experienced was overwhelming; it was so overpowering that it seized their feelings, thought, penetrating their inmost beings; to secure and to possess this joy, they were ready to make any sacrifice and give up everything that now seemed valueless, compared to the joy and happiness the treasure and pearl brought to them.

Yet, the happiness which a treasure or a pearl can offer can never be that true and lasting joy for which every human heart yearns. True joy is the treasure of a human soul which lies in the fulfilment of the spirit. Such a joy can be found only in God’s kingdom, which is present in Jesus Christ. If we can discover Christ, we have found the Way, the Truth, and the Life; if we have found him, then we have access to the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom, given to Solomon, a wisdom which is ‘a discerning judgment to distinguish between good and evil.’

The point Jesus makes through these two parables: Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of great value – is this: citizenship in God’s kingdom involves total commitment on our part. We cannot pursue it as we do a part-time job. Therefore being a Christian is like being a pearl merchant. Being a Christian is like being a treasure seeker.  Being a Christian is like being an Olympian who makes every sacrifice to make the Olympic team. It involves total dedication and commitment.

As we go home today let us think about where can we find true and lasting happiness? There is only one treasure that brings happiness and that treasure is Jesus. Do we have to set out on a journey to find this treasure, this pearl, Jesus? Do we need a map? Yes, we do! The journey is the journey into our own hearts, and the map has been given us by Jesus himself. How should we begin? By praying and receiving the sacraments frequently and getting to know our Bible.