For Sunday, July 30th, 2023
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 old.”
Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to three illustrations. Through the first two examples, he explains how precious the kingdom is. It is like a treasure buried in a field or like a pearl of great price that a merchant finds. Imagine what kind of rare objects you would drop everything and buy if you found them. Perhaps a signed rookie card of a great athlete, a remote lake house, or a Lamborghini Veneno in your favorite color. Or, perhaps more realistically, think of something so compelling you could not refuse to accept it: the perfect job, an amazing vacation, or seeing a beloved family member after a long time. Whatever it might be, imagine something of such great value that you jump at it without hesitation.
The kingdom is compared to things of great value and also ones that you would leave everything to possess. The man who finds a treasure in the field sells everything he owns to purchase the field. Likewise, the merchant sells all that he possesses to attain the pearl. These men do not wait to “get a good deal” upon finding the treasure. They find them, and they do whatever it takes to get them immediately.
If we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must follow the examples of the men in these stories. We will have to leave everything behind. We cannot be slaves to our phones, our finances, or our free time. Instead, we must abstain from unnecessary phone use, refrain from non-essential purchases, and offer up daily prayer time. If we truly want to be saints and to go to heaven, we boldly must live a generous life, giving every moment to the Lord. Once we understand the value of eternity with God in heaven, we will be compelled to give everything so that we can be united to God forever.
The third comparison in this Gospel reading explains the urgency of our decisions. The kingdom is like a dragnet that is thrown into the sea. This net would be pulled between two boats, or it would be thrown into the sea and pulled to shore by two ropes. This net indiscriminately gathers all the fish of the sea. The good fish are put into barrels, and the bad fish are cast back into the darkness. So it will be for us at the end of the age. We will all die; we will all be judged. The elect will experience the vision of God, and the damned will be cast into the fiery furnace. This is not a game we are playing. Our life has real rewards, and our actions have real repercussions.
Today offer some time in silent prayer. Meditate on the value and urgency of the kingdom of heaven using the three images Jesus used in today’s Gospel reading: a treasure in a field, a pearl of great price, and a net in the sea.
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