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Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’Matthew 13:44-46
How often have you found yourself torn between understanding and action? Between what you know you should do and the impulse to do something different, even the exact opposite? From a young age we struggle with this dilemma. Those who are older and more experienced try to teach us the difference between right and wrong, between kind and cruel, between good and evil, but we still, so often, make the wrong choice.
When we are young our bad choices rarely have serious consequences, largely because parents and teachers pick up the pieces and help us to rebuild our lives. As we get older the consequences of our poor choices become increasingly important as they develop the potential to have devastating effects on our lives.
In today’s reading we hear two single sentence parables that contain guidance on making the right choice. Each short parable speaks of something that is of great value, and that can only be acquired at great personal cost. In fact, the treasure and the pearl of great value can only be acquired following the sacrifice of everything deemed to be of value in this world.
Why should anyone make such a sacrifice? The treasure and the pearl may be of immense value, but what good can they be if all else is gone? How can one live and flourish as the possessor of just one valuable item?
Too often, we spend our time using our fallible and inadequate human wisdom to reach poor and ill-informed decisions. Too often the decisions we make focus on our acquisition of wealth. Today, Jesus is reminding us that there is something of much higher value than worldly wealth and possessions. How can the Kingdom of Heaven stand comparison with anything in this world? In his parables Jesus speaks of “treasure” and a “pearl of great value”, but he is only using words and images we can comprehend to describe something way beyond our understanding, and of infinitely great value.
Can we set aside our self-interest and greed?
Can we make the right choice?
Can we become children of God, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Or … is the call of worldly wealth just too strong to resist?