2022 AEC Youth Assembly theme logo chosen
July 21, 2020
Difficult and important conversations
July 21, 2020

17th Sunday in OT (A)

Give your all for the heavenly treasure MATTHEW 13:44–52

By Anne Marie Richardson

Last week’s journey with Jesus through the parables began with a story of separation—the wheat from the weeds—and this week, as we suspend this portion of the stories of the parables, Jesus again takes us into the realities of a final separation where each is being assigned to his own deserved place. This aspect of final judgement seems so important that it is worth repeating—and with even more pronounced symbolism, too.

Initially we were told that the wheat and the weeds would be separated at harvest time; now it is harvest time and the final judgement is here. The net has been cast; all fish have been ‘caught’; now it’s on to the separation of the good from the bad, the deserving from the undeserving. The fish had been comingling and now they are all being sorted.

What makes one fish good as against another that is being cast away? Was this one imbibing the correct food that would stimulate the desired growth, as against another that simply wasn’t? One is therefore allowed to enjoy the rewards of having lived a ‘good’ life; the other is cast out and burnt in the fiery furnace.

These last three parables, verses 44–50, speak to that eventuality. They tell us of the misery at the time of judgement, of the inevitable weeping and gnashing of teeth, all of which could be avoided if, like the treasure hunter, we give all to ensure our place in the Kingdom.

There are so many serious stories associated with treasure hunting, but this gospel passage begs the question, ‘What would you do if you were to find a great treasure hidden away in a field?’. Would you, in your exuberance, be prepared to do all that you could to hold on to that prize; would you be willing to sell everything in order to invest in this pearl of great price?

When the merchant finds that much sought-after fine pearl, he recognises its supreme value and he gives his all to possess it. Do we know that we have such a pearl in our possession already?

When we are baptised our place in the Kingdom is assured; we have acquired the valuable treasure, the pearl of great price. Do we recognise its value so that we would do all humanly possible to hold on to this priceless treasure?

The world is full of enticing distractions that are aimed at diverting our attention from that valuable pearl that is the Kingdom. In one of my favourite scripture verses, Genesis 4: 7b, God, knowing Cain’s heart, proceeds to warn him about the dangers of sin as his envious heart contrives his brother’s murder, “…sin is lurking at the door, its desire is for you but you must master it”, (NRSV). What could be put more plainly than that!

We live amidst the distractions of the world, the flesh, and the devil—but God’s grace is sufficient for us, (2 Cor 12: 9). The choice must always be for Him, (Sir 15: 11–20) since we are all God’s work of art, “created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” (Eph 2:10).

Before He travelled on Jesus asked the disciples, “Do you understand all these things?”. They were the mustard seeds from whom all the ‘birds of the air’ would derive their nourishment. Today He asks us the same thing, for we are today’s mustard seed that would ensure the spread of His Kingdom from here to the ends of the earth.

To God be all glory!


The gospel meditations for July were by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator, and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.