Today is the third of the three consecutive Sundays of our reflection on the parables in Matthew 13. Some people say there are seven of the parables, and others say they are eight. Two Sundays ago, we reflected on the first one, the Parable of the Sower. Last Sunday, we had three of the parables, and today, some say there are three of them; others say there are four of them. For this reflection, I will be focusing on the first two. Some scholars call them the twin parables because they look alike. For the first one, Jesus said, “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.” Second, “[T]he 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.”
The two parables look so much alike and so one may wonder why Jesus repeated the same parable in another way. They do look alike, but they are like the two sides of a coin. In the first one, the treasure buried in the field, the person who finds it was not in search of the treasure, he came across it by accident. But in the case of the merchant, he was deliberately searching for fine pearls. The interpretation that scholars give is, some people find the Kingdom of heaven by accident and others deliberately go in search of the Kingdom of heaven. No matter the route you take, it is the same Kingdom. Some scholars interpret the person in the first parable as a poor farmer, and the merchant in the second parable as a wealthy person. So whether poor or rich, the Kingdom of heaven is a great treasure that we must all be ready to give something up to acquire.
One beautiful thing about parables is, you cannot exhaust what they mean. You cannot pick one interpretation and close the door to further interpretations. Each parable is like an onion bulb, you keep peeling; the more you peel, the more you discover new layers. Also, the understanding of the Kingdom of heaven cannot be exhausted by one interpretation of the parables. The common interpretation for the first two parables of today is, the Kingdom of God is that treasure or fine pearl that we must give up everything else to purchase. Another interpretation which is not so common sees Jesus himself as the one who finds the treasure or fine pearl, and you and I are the treasure or fine Pearl.
How did scholars come up with this second interpretation? Remember, two Sundays ago, in the Parable of the Sower, we saw Jesus as the Sower. Last Sunday, in the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus was the owner of the field, who planted good seeds. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus planted the mustard seed of the Kingdom of Heaven. If we continue with the same approach to the interpretation of the parables, when we come to the parables in today’s gospel passage, we will see that Jesus Christ was the one who threw the net to catch fish, and so Jesus Christ is the person who finds a treasure buried in a field, and the merchant who finds the pearl of great price. In this way, you and I are the treasure and the fine pearl. Just like the unidentified person and the merchant sold everything to purchase the treasure and the pearl they found, Jesus saw you and I buried in the field, and sold everything, he gave his life away on the cross, to purchase us. That tells you how important you are.
Many times, as human beings, we tend to talk about our worth based on how much we have in the bank. We evaluate our worth based on how many friends we have, how many people follow us on Twitter, how many likes we get on Facebook, how many views we get on YouTube, how many certificates we have acquired, how many titles attached to our names. But guess what: your worth lies in the fact that your God gave up his life for you. It took the life of Jesus to purchase you; that is how important you are. The treasure and the fine pearl were buried in the field, which means they were covered in a lot of dirt. Despite the dirt, the person and the merchant who found them knew that when the dirt is wiped out, the true nature of the treasure and the pearl would shine. It does not matter how messy your life is now, it does not matter how imperfect you are now. Jesus knows your true value, and so, he decided to give up his life to purchase you. But he respects your freewill, so he will not forcefully drag you to himself, he only invites you gently. Sometimes, when we have occasions, people tend to be curious about who was in attendance: who came to your wedding? Who came to your party? Then, they measure our value based on who was at that occasion. They say, “Did you know the governor/president/CEO was at her/his wedding? She/he is well connected.” Guess what: for you reading this message now, it is not just the governor or president but it is your God who is at your own occasion. So, my dearly beloved in Christ, in case anyone asks you today, “What is your net worth?” Just tell them, “I am worth my God coming down to die for me!”