By pure accident a man discovers a treasure in the field he is working. He hides it, goes to sell everything he has and buys that field.
The poor farmer, attracted by the unmistakable sparkle of a golden object that has emerged from the ground, immediately thought that, under the clods, an immense wealth could be hidden. He did not want to lose even a crumb, so he decided to buy the whole field.
The treasure, which Jesus speaks about, is the kingdom of heaven; the new experience into which anyone who welcomes the proposals of the Beatitudes enters.
It has an incalculable value and is only gradually discovered by one who decided to wager his life on it. We are not asked to give up something, but everything.
The fact that this treasure is found by chance indicates its gratuity. God offers it freely to people. It is not a prize for their good works.
The discovery of the kingdom of God involves a radical change. This is the meaning of the decision to “sell everything one has to buy the field.” This is what happened to Paul.
He says, “But once I found Christ, I have let everything fall away and I now consider all as garbage, if instead I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
The second parable differs in some significant details. Unlike the farmer who accidentally stumbles onto a treasure, the merchant finds the pearl after an exhausting search. The two discoveries are the result firstly, of a good fortune, and then of commitment.
The behaviour of the merchant is the image of the man who passionately seeks what gives meaning to his life and fills his days with joy.
The two parables are complementary: the kingdom of God on the one hand is a free gift of God, and on the other is also the fruit of human diligence.
The third parable is taken from fishing in the Sea of Galilee. In the nets and trawls they often caught good fish, but also inedible or unclean ones.
On the beach the fishermen proceeded to sort them. Jesus says that this is what happens in the kingdom of heaven.
In this net, not only the good and the capable are welcomed, but everyone, without distinction. The kingdom of God does not present itself today in a pure state; within the Christian community the presence of evil and of sin is serenely accepted beside the good.
No one, though impure, must feel left out or be marginalised.
This is a time of mercy and the patience of God who “does not want anyone to perish, but that all may come to conversion” (2 Peter 3:9).
Of course the time of separation will come. In the end, the separation will not be between good and bad, but between good and evil.
Only the good will enter heaven, all the negativity will be annihilated first… by the fire of God’s love.
Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF