Friday of Pentecost 9 – Matthew 13:44-52

44 “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.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

In the ancient world, war was a much more ponderous thing. There were no cruise missiles or paratroopers. There were men on horses who kicked up a cloud of dust which could be seen for days before they arrived. When a city was threatened, the wealthy would sneak out at night and hide their treasures in clay jars, digging deep holes in plowed fields, noting the place. If the city fell, they could probably escape and reclaim their treasure. If the city withstood the assault, then they could recover their wealth. But sometimes people died, or were enslaved, or they simply could not remember where the treasure was buried.

As a result, men plowing in a field would occasionally strike a clay pot and discover a cache of coins or other treasure. There were no serial numbers. No one knew how long the money had been buried. The rule was simple: Finders keepers!

Read again that first verse of this reading. It is a parable in one verse. The man does something odd. He sells all he has in order to buy that field. He already owns the treasure, why does he do that? I used to hate this parable of Jesus. I thought it meant that I was supposed to lose everything for Christ. There are other places where he says things like that. I thought this was another one of those. But then someone pointed out to me that there is no “must,” “ought,” or “should” in this parable. The man who finds the treasure is not me. It is Jesus. He happily loses all (the cross) to gain the treasure he already owns by rights. And that makes me the treasure.

In these days of pandemic, it has likely been easy to forget this, but God really does love you. You are his treasure. Like your mom or grandmother, he has stuck the crude art which is your life on his refrigerator door, so you are always before him. Rest in that simple truth today. God loves you. You are his treasure.

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