Jesus tells his disciples about the man who found a buried treasure. It is really all about Discipleship, and when you have the opportunity, you have to do everything that is necessary to possess it. It’s a very subtle point, but notice that the owner of that field isn’t aware that he has a Great Treasure within his grasp! Matthew’s community needed to hear this parable because they were being shunned by the Jewish community, and had to give up family and friends to be a disciple of Jesus. But he reminds them that if you want the treasure, you have to be willing to pay the price!
The pearl of great price story sounds like it is the same thing as the buried treasure, but again Matthew has introduced another subtle difference. The man who found the buried treasure was surprised when he accidentally found it, and gave up all he had to buy the field where the treasure was located. But in the case of the pearl of great price, the merchant had been seeking that pearl for a long time; his was a deliberate search. Nevertheless, his response was the same: he gave up all he had to possess it. The message for those listening to Jesus, and the listeners in Matthew’s community fifty years later, was the same. Discipleship will cost you! Following Jesus will cost you! But the rewards are incredible!
Finally, there is the parable of the dragnet. The message to the disciples is encouraging, one they needed to hear. “Don’t worry about the opposition to your discipleship. Jesus will do the sorting out come judgment day.” And you will notice, when you read that parable, that the bad fish are not returned to the sea; they are “thrown away,” which means they will die. If you have ears to hear, then hear!
For all of us the parables of Jesus ask us to make a radical choice: give up everything to gain the kingdom. The Holy Spirit has guided the Catholic Church to recognise the “treasure” we have in the seven sacraments. Use them!