Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: 1 Kings 3:5,7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Matt 13:44-52
The kingdom, treasure of great value and sacrifice are the key words that help to understand the central message of this Sunday. Sacrifice is perhaps the overarching theme. The best definition of sacrifice from the American Heritage Dictionary is the following: “To forfeit something for something else considered to have greater value.” We normally interpret this parable in terms of us discovering Jesus Christ - the treasure of great value, and therefore our need to sell all we have in order to possess that treasure. While that is true, we need to look at this parable from the flip side. In the parable, Jesus is speaking about himself. He is the one who finds the treasure of great value - you and I. He loves us so much that He goes all the way to die on the Cross to purchase us with his blood. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) Understanding the parable in this way constitutes an even greater challenge. Suppose someone saves you from a gun man, and while saving you is fatally wounded, would you simply ignore that person, move on and forget? That is precisely the point. “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) His death takes away our sinfulness and infuses God’s grace in us to live with Him in eternal life. He gives us the wisdom to choose his values and live them. All Jesus asks of us is to return the gifts God has given us by offering our time, talent and treasure so that others may become His disciples. He proposes to us like a lover to move closer so he may possess us fully; to be transformed into his mission, vision and purpose, leading us to be the best version of ourselves. It was not Paul who found Jesus but Jesus found Paul - a treasure of great value. St. Paul was so transformed into a disciple of Jesus Christ that he wrote to the Philippians: “For His sake I have accepted the loss of all things…that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)
In the first parable Jesus uses the metaphor of the treasure buried in a field. A person finds it and then hides it and goes and sells everything he has in order to buy that field to secure the treasure. The idea obviously is that when Jesus finds each of us, he transforms us into his disciples so we may assume his mission, vision and purpose. Jesus makes all efforts to save us. He goes all the way to the Cross to seal the deal with his own blood. The bottom line question is: how far are you prepared to go for Jesus? The message we take home this Sunday may be summed in three points. 1) Jesus Christ is the person in the parable who finds the treasure of great value - you and I, and loves us so much that He goes all the way to the die on the Cross to save us. 2) Jesus asks us that in gratitude we return to God the gifts we have received by offering our time, talent and treasure so that others too may become his disciples. He proposes to us like a lover to move closer so he may possess us fully. 3) Finally as stewards we are challenged by St. Paul’s conviction, “For His sake I have accepted the loss of all things…that I may gain Christ”; (Phil. 3:8) to sacrifice worldly values for the values of Christ. How far are you willing to go for Jesus? The choice is your? Think about it.
©2014 John S. Mbinda