By CHEEKAI DELA CRUZ
National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Ps 119:57,72, 76-77, 127-130
1Kings 3:5, 7-12
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The Parable of the Net
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures
What does it mean to find hidden treasures among the filth of today’s world? It probably means everything. Jesus’ words, in this twin parable speaks volumes of what it takes to get that hidden treasure and exchange everything for it. When you find something of great value, one would do everything to own it. For the Kingdom of heaven is like this: “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus’ challenge to the rich man rings true up to now. You cannot be a follower of Christ if you are being consumed by this world.
But what does hidden treasure mean in today’s context? What does the Kingdom of heaven mean for the people who are constantly suffering under the daily grind of life amid staggering global pandemic? For many believers in Christ, these hidden treasures are those that bring good news to our lives: This means better health system, better socio-economic services to the people, good leadership from the government—all these things are hidden, and seemingly we are at a deadlock of hopelessness and despair in finding these treasures under heaven. But God’s mercy is abundant. And God’s hope never runs out of fashion. The quest for “hidden treasures” that equates to God’s Kingdom drives us to be co-participants in the redemptive work of God. These hidden treasures are meant to be unearthed, if not asserted.
Where do we find these treasures then?
In the thick of things, where our lives are commonly decorated with toxic lockdowns, and characterized with militaristic approach of curbing the pandemic crisis, where do we find our treasures? Where do we find the things that would liberate us from such drudgery and ineptness of the government? Where is hope in all of these? All of these questions compel us toward deep reflection and action. We can rest on the fact that God’s Kingdom is here, it is just hidden. That God’s Kingdom needs to be seen, needs to be found out, needs to be ushered in.
Similar to what the Filipino people experience recently, the denial of franchise of ABS-CBN, was also a denial to the public “treasures”. It seems that the weight of petty angst of politicians is much heavier than the job of the workers, press freedom and the access of public to information.
Now it begs us the question, in looking for treasures, what are the kinds of things that we value? And that we are willing to exchange and lay down to have such treasures? What are our “pearls” that would drive us to pursue it: Is it freedom? Is it health? Is it God’s image in all us? Is it our individual and collective rights? Is it abundant life for all? These beautiful treasures run in contrast to our realities today that they are highly valued, as treasures, as pearls, and that we will do everything to have them. And although the kingdom of heaven may be hidden, it is possible to locate it, and when it is found, its value surpasses that of anything else on earth, and so everything possible should be done to obtain it.
In looking at this, there is that element of active engagement in searching for those treasures. God wants us to “Sell everything”, and go buy the field and buy the pearl. This teaches us a great lesson, that is, if we are willing to seek God’s kingdom, it has a great price of hard work commitment and dedication in pursuant of this. Go sell your possessions, and follow me. Abandon everything, and follow me. Just like how people who are continuously and tirelessly fighting for freedom, for mass testing, for human rights, for junking the Anti-Terror law, seeking God’s kingdom requires the realization of people’s unrequited commitment towards the fulfillment of this.
As Christians, who do God’s work, we are being called to be like treasure hunters–to prioritize the Kingdom of heaven and work for the common good of all persons. God teaches us to focus on the treasures of heaven and earth and what matters most – the dignity of life. May we rest in the hope that the treasure of God’ reign and justice will be dispensed accordingly as we search for God’s eschatology, where abundant life is a real and pulsating reality for all of us.
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).