Matthew 13: 44-52
Jesus said to the crowds. “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic – what a find! – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
“Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchanton the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
“Or, God’s kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach. The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away. That’s how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won’t do any good.”
Jesus asked, “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?”
Jesus proceeds to liken the kin-dom of the heavens, not just to a dragnet, but to a dragnet thrown into the sea that catches fish of every kind and is drawn to shore by fisher-folk who sit down and sort it, putting the good into baskets and throwing away the bad. To what might this parable invite us? As we confine ourselves to essential shopping during the pandemic, many are asking what is good and what is not so good, what sort of future do we really want. Do we want to perpetuate a consumerist lifestyle that appropriates far more than our share of the world’s resources and
leaves little time or energy for considering either the plight of our endangered planet or the needs and aspirations of those on the edge? There is a new realisation that standard of living and quality of life are far from synonymous.
The summary statement tells us that, like Matthew’s community, we need to be “scribes” educated in the ways of God. We need to bring out of the treasury of our traditions “what is new and what is old”, wisely discerning what to keep and what to relinquish. Parables help to subvert our presuppositions. They disturb our complacency if we allow them to do so.
The parables of the buried treasure, the priceless pearl and the dragnet remind us that gospel discipleship demands an all-embracing investment of heart and spirit. We search our hearts to know where our treasure lies and join with others who show us how we might claim it for the common good of the entire Earth community.