• 100 Years at Epping
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  • 100 Years at Epping
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Friday, 28 July 2023 19:24

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - 2023

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestAt Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, I once saw some boys and girls holding some paper and being asked to answer some questions, but in order to do that they had to run and find the answers located in different exhibitions all over the museum. Doing that in a museum that is so big, with five levels, and can be comparable with a medium-sized shopping mall, is quite a challenge and can provide hours and hours of learning and fun. And at the end of the search, they’ll be given a prize. So, the kids are doing a sort of a treasure hunt and that is a good way to enjoy and learn inside a museum.

Pearl of Great Price Twitter 550The first two parables in today’s gospel tell us of a “treasure hunt”. In the first parable, we can see that it is not highly unusual that some people bury their treasure in fields that are not their own because situations can become volatile and these people can be hunted for their wealth. So, for these rich people, especially if they are going away to a distant land, it would be practical for them to bury their treasure in a field in the hope that once they have returned home they can just recover their buried treasure once everything is safe. In the parable, we can safely presume that the original owner of the treasure didn’t return and the one who found the treasure can’t legally claim the treasure because the field that it was buried in wasn’t his. So, he must buy the field (of course, he won’t say that there’s a buried treasure in there) so that he can claim the treasure. The second parable is also similar, about a merchant of fine pearls, who once he found one of great value, sells everything he has and buys that pearl. We have to recognise that in the Mediterranean culture of Jesus’ time, pearls were a rarity and they could fetch a small fortune if one could find one.

In the gospel today, Matthew wanted to emphasise to his community how precious and important the kingdom of God is. It is so important that the parable tells us that we should give up everything in order to obtain that kingdom which is described as a buried treasure and the pearl of great price.

Jesus in the parables today tells us of the need to focus our lives towards the kingdom of heaven. It should be the goal of everyone to work towards the kingdom of heaven. Sadly, a lot of us living in this world are like living zombies. We just go through the routine of our day without direction about where we want to go or what we want to happen. And sadly, this is a great cause for depression and, in extreme cases, suicide.

Jesus wants to provide that direction in our lives by pointing us towards the kingdom of heaven. And Matthew in his gospel tries to spell that out to his Jewish audience. Jesus is a Messiah, not in a worldly fashion as many Jews were expecting, but a Messiah who would save us from our sins. And if we follow his ways then we’ll be led towards the kingdom of heaven that Jesus is promising to all those who follow him.

And this is where the third parable comes in. That for all of us, whether we are following Jesus or not, we will be dragged into a net at the end of age and we will be judged and separated, whether we are righteous and be saved or unfaithful and be thrown to the fiery furnace.

So let us all aim towards the kingdom of heaven. It is where we are destined to belong. However, if we don’t follow Christ then we can’t enter the kingdom, even though Jesus wants us to join him. Jesus will provide us the direction that we need so that our lives will have meaning. The only thing that we have to do is to listen and do what he tells us.