the seventeenth Sunday of the year
Year A - Mt. 13:44-52
Father Daniel Meynen
said: 'The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field,
which a man found and covered up; 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, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all
that he had and bought it.
'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the
sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it
ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away
the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come
out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the
furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
'Have you understood all this?' They said to him, 'Yes.' And he said
to them, 'Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom
of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what
is new and what is old.' "
kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man
found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he
has and buys that field."
Lord Jesus, continuing with his teaching, tells us three parables
about the kingdom of heaven: he wants to make us understand the
point of our life on earth, which is to get us to Heaven at any cost!
If we are here, and if we are, moreover, with such and such a person
and not with someone else, it is because our eternal salvation
depends upon it!
parable is that of the field containing a treasure, which underlines
the personal character of salvation in Jesus Christ. That is, if we
want to go to Heaven and avoid hell, it all depends on us and us
alone, with the grace of God. We should not rely on our neighbor to
lead us to Heaven: our neighbor does not know what is in us, and we
do not know what is in him. There is no need to enter into
philosophical speculations on this: this is how the human person is
So, he who
finds a treasure in a field wants absolutely no one else to know of
the existence of that treasure: this knowledge must remain his own,
and he can share it with no one. This is why, once he finds the
treasure, he buries it again in the field. He wants this treasure
for himself alone, not through selfishness or lack of charity, but
rather because this treasure is for him and him alone. And he knows
all, he knows very well that if someone else were to know of the
existence of the treasure, he would run the risk of not being able to
buy the field and thus not entering into possession of the treasure:
every man and woman who, while relying on the grace of God, believes
that he or she can count on someone else to help them to go to Heaven
would risk compromising his or her salvation at any moment! So let
us learn well the message of Jesus: salvation is a personal affair!
does not mean that we should not or cannot work for the eternal
salvation of others, above all those close to us. In fact, we must
do so! But only if we ourselves do everything we need to assure our
own salvation, with the help of the grace of God...
the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he
had and bought it."
parable, along with the first one, deals with the purchase of
something, a field or a pearl, which signifies the kingdom of Heaven.
Now, we cannot buy the kingdom of Heaven: it has no price, for it
is absolutely free! It is only by the grace of God that we are
allowed to enter... So why does Jesus speak in these two parables of
buying something that signifies the kingdom?
parable seems to provide an explanation. Indeed, Jesus says that the
person in question here is a "merchant": "The kingdom
of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls." Now, a
merchant is not someone who buys at the highest price in order to
sell at a loss what he had just bought so dearly. No. A merchant
is, on the contrary, someone who bargains, someone who always tries
to buy low in order to sell high later on.
Jesus wants us to understand is that the kingdom of Heaven, if it is
merited - and we must do all we can to merit it - is first and
foremost a gift, a present, a grace offered to he who will show
himself to be skillful in trade, but who cannot pay a high price, for
he is poor, poor with the spiritual poverty that merits the
possession of the kingdom of Heaven. "Blessed are the poor in
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!" (Mt. 5:3)
the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and
gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and
sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So
it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and
separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace
of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."
parable makes use of a well-known subject: that of fishermen and
fish. Several of Jesus' disciples were fishermen, and notably Peter,
to whom Jesus said, "Henceforth you will be catching men."
(Lk. 5:10) So the meaning is clear: the fish of every kind in the
sea are all men, whether good or bad. But, while they are in the
sea, fish are neither good nor bad: it is only at the end of the
world that the sorting is done, when the net is drawn onto the
We all live
with such and such a neighbor. But who is this neighbor? Is he a
good or a bad fish? And what are we? Good or bad? No one knows...
Except through a special grace of God, no one knows whether or not he
is worthy of Heaven: no man or woman, until the hour of death and of
the last judgement, knows if he or she is worthy of going to
heaven... That's how it is. And this is very good for keeping us
humble and dependent on God!
hope, holy hope, allows us to abandon ourselves to the mercy of God
and to expect that the Lord will lavish upon us his all-powerful Love
that saves and sanctifies those who believe in Him! May the Most
Blessed Virgin Mary, who never ceased to believe and hope in the
Mercy of God, help us to advance along the Way that leads us to the
House of the Father, in the Holy Spirit! Amen!
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