17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
PARABLES OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE, THE PEARL AND THE DRAGNET
Gospel of 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the ol
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission).
- 44-46 In these two parables Jesus shows the supreme value of the Kingdom of heaven, and the attitude people need if they are to attain it.
- The parables are very alike, but it is interesting to note the differences: the treasure means abundance of gifts; the pearl indicates the beauty of the Kingdom.
- The treasure is something stumbled upon; the pearl, the result of a lengthy search; but in both instances the finder is filled with joy.
- Faith, vocation, true wisdom, desire for heaven, are things which sometimes are discovered suddenly and unexpectedly, and sometimes after much searching (cf. St Gregory the Great, In Evangelia homiliae, 11).
- However, the man’s attitude is the same in both parables and is described in the same terms: “he goes and sells all that he has and buys it”: detachment, generosity, is indispensable for obtaining the treasure.
- “Anyone who understands the Kingdom which Christ proposes realizes that it is worth staking everything to obtain it … The Kingdom of heaven is difficult to win. No one can be sure of achieving it, but the humble cry of a repentant man can open wide its doors” (J. Escrivá, Chris is passing by, 180).
- 47 “Fish of every kind”: almost all the Greek manuscripts and early translations say “All kinds of things”.
- A dragnet is very long and about two metres wide; when it is extended between two boats it forms double or triple mesh with the result that when it is pulled in it collects all sorts of things in addition to fish — algae, weeds, rubbish etc.
- This parable is rather like the parable of the cockle, but in a fishing context: the net is the Church, the sea the world.
- We can easily find in this parable the dogmatic truth of the Judgment: at the end of time God will judge men and separate the good from the bad.
- It is interesting to note our Lord’s repeated references to the last things, especially Judgment and hell: he emphasizes these truths because of man’s great tendency to forget them:
- “All these things are said to make sure that no one can make the excuse that he does not know about them: this excuse would be valid only if eternal punishment were spoken about in ambiguous terms” (St Gregory the Great, In Evangelia homiliae, 11).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: Have you found the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price?
Three men were riding in the Colorado Rockies on horseback one starry, moonlit night. As they made their way along the base of the mountain, a voice thundered from the sky, commending them to stop and dismount. They immediately followed the instruction. Then the voice continued, “Go to the riverbed and pick up some pebbles. Put them into your backpack and do not look at them till morning.”
Completing their tasks, the men begin to mount up when they heard the voice again, “This will be both the happiest and saddest day of your life.” With that final thought, the men went on their way.
As the sun began to brighten up the eastern sky, the riders reached into their saddle bags. To their amazement, the pebbles had turned to gold. As they celebrated their new wealth, one of the men stopped and exclaimed, “Wait! Now I know what the voice meant when he said this would be both the happiest and saddest day of our lives. Yes, we have gold, but think how rich we would be had we picked up more pebbles.”
In today’s gospel, in the parable of the hidden treasure, the man finds the treasure by accident. He was not really looking for it. And when he found it, “out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
Somebody or someone, introduces us to Jesus and our life changes for the better. Or we stumble upon it while watching TV or hearing of a Christian Life Program being announced in church. And then we are smitten.
On the other hand, in the parable of the pearl, the man is a merchant whose job is to look for fine pearls. “When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13: 45-46)
We are in constant search for life’s meaning, for peace, for joy. We go searching for it in the pleasure-filled spaces of this world but the happiness we enjoy remains temporary. And then our search ends when we finally meet Jesus in a Christian Life Program or a retreat or in some form.
[‘The Blind Side’: One Family’s Inspiring Story – Video by ABC News]
Leigh Anne Tuohy, who discovers Michael Oher walking on a street bereft of warm clothing on a freezing night, decides to adopt him. Michael, also discovers the potential he never knew he had. There was no turning back from then on. Life changes dramatically – for the better – for both the Tuohy family and for Michael.
Our goal is to keep Jesus constant in our lives because we know that He is the source of bountiful joy. No matter what happens to us, we know He has our backs covered. We have found the true treasure and we must sustain it. It is grace from the Holy Spirit that will allow us to keep it in our hearts. We are grateful.
Oftentimes, our search for meaning in life comes when we are down on bended knees, when we are knee-deep in our difficulties. And as we wade through the flooded streets of life, we discover our lifesaver in Jesus Christ.
We must seize the opportunity, abandon completely the crooked path we took, and choose the path that will lead us to our eternal salvation.
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