homily 30th July 2017

Seventeenth Sunday of the year 2017

Today three more parables of the kingdom – all in their way quite curious – for there is far more than a simple story – there are a number of questions and speculations –

The treasure buried in a field – it may even be a story based on a recent event – the Old Testament alone shows that over the years, many parts of the countryside had been fought over – and it is more than possible that at a time of danger, a farmer has buried treasure in a field – but has been overwhelmed by events – and is never able to return to recover it – but who in fact does the treasure belong to? – you will notice that the purchaser of the field does not reveal the source of his new wealth but hides it again – and buys the field – possibly it will remain a secret source of wealth – gradually recovered and spent over the years – nothing public as there is risk that the previous owner of the land will negate the contract, the previous owner of the treasure may stake a claim, or even the State may intervene –

And then the pearl of great price – again a curious story – this is not something casual – it is a merchant looking for fine pearls – someone with knowledge and experience – but he really stake everything on a single item – with all the risks that this involves – that it might be damaged or flawed – and the problems of security whilst he owns it – even if he hopes to sell it on at a later date at a substantial profit – over and over again, in the matters in which I am involved – the norm is that risks should be reasonably spread.

Perhaps the image of the fisherman sorting his catch is easier – putting the good ones in a basket and throwing the rubbish away.

And then the final image of the householder – bring out from his storeroom things both old and new.

So a fascinating collection of images – all prefaced with the words – the kingdom of heaven  is like – I would remind you that this is not the Church – this is something more formal, that will come later with the promise to Peter – I will build my Church – this is something more general – the presence of the love of God in the world – and the way in which individuals will react to it – and I think that looking at these parables carefully – one can see that at times it will be high risk – but also times, when at least partially people will get it wrong – both the treasure hunter and the pearl merchant think that they have discovered something of enormous value – their fortunes have been made and they are secure for the rest of their lives – but beyond this they are taking enormous risks – and the question must be asked can this justified – what if they had acted differently –   Â

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