17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
Sunday 30 July 2023
“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”.
Jesus passes from village to village, preaching the Good News around the Sea of Galilee. The content of His Gospel is the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of Heaven). It isn’t easy to transmit such content, new and alien to this world. For this reason, the Master uses the language of similitudes which, while using what is familiar, simple and part of daily life, leads the listener to a higher plain. So, in His preaching, Jesus often acclaims, affirming “the Kingdom of heaven is like a…”. We read it here in Matt 13:44: “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”.
This verse is the heart of the Good News, the essence of the kingdom of Heaven. It speaks of a treasure, an item of great value, buried and hidden. A man – probably a tenant of the field – finds it unexpectedly. I’m times in war, treasures were often hidden. This man hides the item again to cover his discovery, after which he goes (he doesn’t remain still); he runs with joy, going to sell all of his possessions to buy the field.
The treasure is Jesus. Whoever meets Him overflows with joy, so much so that, spontaneously and without compulsion, they go and sell what they possess: they give! Like Paul of Tarsus, who writes to the Philippians: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish [literally, ‘excrement’], in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8).
However, often when we evangelise we do the opposite. We ask the person to “sell everything” first, before encountering Jesus, life’s treasure! An Evangelisation which obliges (filled with “you must”) isn’t effective. Instead, let’s give our urgency to encountering Christ, who became flesh for all humankind, so that we can live the first fruits of Paradise already here on earth. Once someone discovers His presence and tastes of His goodness, they will run spontaneously to sell all the rest, which has no value compared to Him, and they too announce salvation!