A Pearl of Great Price

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
(Matthew 13:44-52)

Scripture Study

13:44–46 Two parables, the Hidden Treasure (13:44) and the Pearl of Great Value (13:45–46), that underscore the same point. Both stress that the kingdom’s value is inestimable, and surrendering earthly attachments is required to obtain it (19:21, 29; Phil 3:8). This may entail literal poverty (religious) or spiritual poverty (5:3) for those whose state in life involves ownership of property (laity) (CCC 546). ● Allegorically (St. Irenaeus, AH 4, 26, 1): Christ himself is the great treasure hidden within the field of the OT Scriptures. Only in light of his Cross and Resurrection can the mysteries of the Old be fully understood to announce the advent of God’s Son.

13:47–50 The parable of the Dragnet envisions the Day of Judgment when the righteous are separated from the wicked . Leading up to this event, men and women are gathered into the kingdom from all nations, just as a net pulled through the sea collects various species of fish. The fishermen of the parable are the apostles and missionaries of the Church (see 4:18–19). The angels are elsewhere linked with the coming of Christ in judgment (16:27; 2 Thess 1:7).

13:52 every scribe: Legal experts in first-century Judaism. Here it denotes the apostles instructed for the kingdom. Jesus equips them to evangelize and catechize (28:18–20) the world about the treasures hidden in the old Covenant and manifest in the new. Matthew’s own ministry follows this pattern: he continually cites the OT to explain its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today includes several of Jesus’ better-known parables. I’d like to comment on this one: “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls…”

What does this tell us? That there is often something interruptive about the Kingdom of God. It is a breakthrough, a radical change, a surprise.

Once we find the pearl, everything else must go. We must “sell” all of our other preoccupations and concerns, all those things and people that we once put in the center of our lives. They must go. There is something uncompromising to what Jesus is getting at.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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