These days we have countless number of mega banks, micro finance banks and mortgage banks where people save their valuables and treasures such as monies and properties. Some others go by way of contributions in various village meetings which is popularly known as izuzu or itu meeting. On the contrary, the Palestinians had neither micro nor macro banks such that they had to devise means of saving their valuables or treasures. Their only available and reliable means in their day was by digging the ground and burying their treasure till the time it’s needed. This quickly reminds me of our ancient local saving method some years ago before the emergence of banks. Like the Jews, our early fathers also buried their treasures in the ground in their yam bans and living rooms and sometimes on private iroko trees and palm trees. Little wonder yam bans were considered so sacred a place not just because of the yams therein but other values which can also be saved in the ban
Today Jesus in his usual manner teaches the disciples with another parable so familiar to them- parable of the hidden treasure. This was a usual ordinary saving style during their days. Also remember the parable of the worthless servant who hid the talent given him on the ground awaiting the master’s return (Matth 25;25). According to Josephus, this banking system was prevalent in the Palestinian world because of the reoccurrence of war since Palestine was the most fought over country in the world during their days. Hence the fear of war controlled daily activities of the people. In his book ‘The Land and the Book’, Thomson tells how army officials and some merchants make it their business searching for hidden treasures especially during or immediately after war in palaces of kings. An example of this was after the death of Alexander the Great and his son Philip, some officials of the palace buried the king’s valuables in the earth waiting opportune moment to dig it up but was unfortunately dug up by some workmen in the field. One may begin to wonder if such was not theft in Palestine that is, digging up what one did not hide in the earth. The Rabbinic law unlike the Roman law states regarding this matter that; ‘what finds belongs to the finder’. Hence it was no offence digging up such treasures.
In the gospel text of today, Jesus elaborates by means of two parables the injunction to seek first the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, you cannot attain it unless you sell all you have in order to take possession of the field, thus by this way one shows how much he/she values that treasure (Mt 13:44). The Kingdom of God is like a precious pearl, you cannot possess it unless you sell all you have in order to be with it, thus by this way one shows how much the pearl is important for him (Mt 13:45). I am created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). And my heart is constantly thirsting to be one with its Origin. Therefore, the goal of my life is to be with God for ever – to be part of the Kingdom of God. I need to prioritize this above all things: my wealth and possessions, my family and relationships, my degrees and achievements. These ought to be merely means to reach this ultimate goal of my life. Little wonder the words of St. Ignatius are the Principle and Foundation’ that has influenced the 2nd question of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: why are we created and what is your life goal? The goal of our life is to live with God forever. Solomon show us today how to prioritize our highest goal as a king as manifest in the first reading of today. We may not have the wisdom of Solomon that God granted him because of his humility and unselfishness, but the treasure is presented to us, and we simply have to recognize it and make it our own by whatever means possible.
It is worthy of note and legitimate enough to infer from today’s first parable that this fortunate man must have been doing his work with diligence and efficiency because he must have been digging so dip not just merely scraping the surface. Are you a Jesus surface seeker? Remember, true happiness, true satisfaction, the sense of God, the presence of Christ are all found in the day’s work when honestly and conscientiously done. From the first and second parable we learn that the kingdom has been a well kept secret and that when we discover that secret, we should, of necessity, do everything to make it our own.
Be all analysis to this regard as it may, all details to this parable are subservient, the greatest point Jesus makes here is the joy of discovering the treasure that made the man willing to give up everything to make the treasure indubitably his own. In the second parable, it is suggestive that the kingdom of God is comparable to the valuable pearl which was so dear to men’s heart both because of its beauty and monetary value. It was the loviest of all possessions. It was their highest good in their time to possess! Similarly, the pearl is beautiful in itself, rare, worth whatever it takes to own it. Synonymously put, it is the loveliest thing to possess the kingdom of God which ought to be our highest good. Thus we ought to unhesitantly accept the will of God as the highest good!
This Sunday’s gospel is a collection of four parables, teaching us about the kingdom of heaven. Be content to choose one and remain with it. To ensure that your meditation remains down to earth, you must clarify what for you is “the kingdom of heaven”. It is a biblical expression which means “what happens when God is really king,” and it includes his being king of an individual as well as of a community. Solomon was ready to offer everything to gain wisdom as his highest good. What is our highest good! Are you ready to offer everything to gain our highest good which is Heaven?
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