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Treasure Hidden in the Field


In ancient times, when there was no banking system or safety locker, people used to hide their non-perishable treasure by burying it in clay pots in the ground so that the thief would not find it and steal it. They used this method mostly during war to avoid plunder by the enemy. Because of war, the owner of the treasure might die, be taken into exile, or flee until the war is over, with the hope of returning to retake the treasure. But the owner might not come back to claim it and the treasure would remain hidden from all. So, whoever owns the land later will be unaware of the treasure on his or her property.

Jesus compares the hidden treasure one owns to the Kingdom of heaven. Though it is among the people, they might not know of it. Unlike the secrecy kept in relation to the unknown treasure, John the Baptist and Jesus revealed that to the world on time. “John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judaea and saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’” (Mt 3:1-2). Only through repentance can one unearth and possess it. When King Herod Antipas arrested John, Jesus withdrew from Judaea to Galilee. He preached in Capernaum by the sea and said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17). Jesus was announcing the Kingdom of Heaven through parables, “lain hidden from the foundation of the world” (Mt 13:35b).

The laborer who ploughs the land for cultivation or unearths for construction might accidentally find a hidden treasure. He would keep it secret and bury it again so no one else might know of it. According to the law of the time, the treasure would belong to the landowner and not the one who unearthed it. So, after burying it again in secret, he sells everything he has and buys that field. Similar instances would have happened in those days that were known to the people.

Though the Kingdom of Heaven is the most valuable treasure, one can gain it only by joining the Church Jesus established. Here the Church represents the field with the treasure. Being a member of the Church could be challenging, especially in the early Church when there was severe persecution from the Jews and the Romans.

Since the Kingdom of Heaven is spiritual, only those who are receptive to the teachings of Jesus would find it. While Jesus was teaching the crowd on his kingdom in parables, the disciples asked him why he was speaking to them in parables. His reply was, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted” (Mt 13:11). Only those who are open-minded and receptive to Jesus’ teachings could find and understand the Kingdom of Heaven. “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:25).

Unlike the one who finds the hidden treasure buries it again to gain that for himself, Jesus and his disciples reveal the Kingdom of Heaven to all the nations so that those who believe them can possess it (Lk 9:1-6; Mk 15:15-16; Mt 24:14). Quoting Isaiah 6:9- 10, Jesus said, “You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them” (Mt 13:14-15). So, finding the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven is a gift of God for those who welcome the messengers of the Kingdom.

In the secular world, the one who finds the hidden treasure will bargain with the owner of the treasure-hidden land to purchase it. The owner who does not know of his hidden treasure might sell it at a reasonable price. The one who buys it will sell everything he has to purchase the treasure-hidden land, knowing that he would have a high benefit by losing everything else he had. So, he would be happy to lose everything to gain the most valuable treasure that would make him rich instantly. The conduct of the man in this parable is immoral or unlawful according to modern standards. As a parable, the point here is the value of precious treasure one discovers, the joy in finding it, and the sacrifice of giving up everything he owns to buy the field that contains the treasure. Jesus compared that to the immense value and joy in finding the Kingdom of Heaven and one’s sacrifices to achieve it.

Renouncing the worldly possession for the Kingdom of Heaven was one condition Jesus laid out to become his disciple. He taught, “Everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). To a young man who wished to be perfect, Jesus said, “‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Mt 19:21-23).

The apostles left everything they had to follow Jesus to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven he established. However, Judas Iscariot failed in his vocation when he resumed his greed for money. Simon Peter asked Jesus, “‘We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life’” (Mt 19:27-29). Jesus preached during the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:19-21). Thus, Jesus taught his disciples to gain the Kingdom of Heaven by sacrificing worldly treasures. They did it, suffered for the Church Jesus established, and even became martyrs for the Kingdom.

Paul expressed his joy in suffering and losing everything for the Kingdom of God – “In everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonour, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor 6:4-10).


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