The hidden treasure and the precious pearl are nothing other than Jesus Himself.
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
ROME (Zenit) – What did Jesus want to say with the two parables of the hidden treasure and the precious pearl? More or less this: The decisive hour of history has arrived. The Kingdom of God has come on earth.
Specifically, it is about himself and his coming on earth. The hidden treasure and the precious pearl are nothing other than Jesus himself. It is as if, with these words, Jesus wished to say: Salvation has come to you freely, by God’s initiative. Make a decision, take advantage of the opportunity, do not let it escape from you. It is the time to decide.
What comes to my mind is the day World War II ended. In the city, partisans and allies opened the storerooms with provisions left by the German army when it retreated. In a flash, the news reached villages in the country and all ran at top speed to take all those wonderful things. Some arrived home full of blankets, others with baskets of provisions.
I think that with these two parables Jesus wished to create such an atmosphere. He wanted to say: Run while you have time! There is a free treasure that awaits you, a precious pearl. Do not lose the opportunity.
Except that, in Jesus’ case, what is at stake is infinitely more serious. One’s all is at stake. The Kingdom is the only thing that can save us from the highest risk of life, which is to lose the reason why we are in this world.
We are in a society that lives on insurance. People insure themselves against everything. In some countries, it is a kind of mania. There is even insurance against bad weather during vacations. Among all, the most important and frequent insurance is that of life.
However, lets reflect for a minute. Of what use is this insurance and against what does it insure us? Against death? Of course not. It ensures that, in case of death, some one receives an indemnity.
The Kingdom of Heaven is also life insurance against death. “Whoever believes in me, even though he die, shall live,” said Jesus. Thus we also understand the radical need posed by such a “deal”: to sell everything and leave it all. In other words, to be prepared, if necessary, for any sacrifice.
However, not to pay the price of the treasure or the pearl, which, by definition, do not have a “price,” but to be worthy of them.
In each of the parables there are, in fact, two actors: an evident one, that goes, sells and buys; and a hidden one, taken for granted. The author taken for granted is the former proprietor who did not realize that in his field there was a treasure and sold it cheaply to the first bidder. It is the man or woman who had the precious pearl, did not realize its value, and gave it to the first merchant passing by, perhaps for a collection of false pearls.
How can we not see in this warning that is addressed to those of us who sell our faith and Christian heritage for nothing?
However, the parable does not say “a man sold everything he had and started to look for a hidden treasure.” We know how such stories end: One loses what one had and finds no treasure. These are stories of dreamers, of visionaries.
No, man found a treasure and, because of this, sold all he had to buy it. In a word, it is necessary to have found the treasure to have the strength and joy to sell everything.
Leaving the parable to one side, we must first find Jesus, meet him in a personal, new and convincing way. Discover him as friend and savior. Then it will be child’s play to sell everything.
It is something that will be “full of joy,” as the proprietor mentioned in the Gospel