We may think that buried treasure is only found in children’s stories. But it can happen in real life. The Hoxne Hoard was found by a metal detector enthusiast near the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, in 1992. The hoard consists of almost fifteen thousand Roman gold, silver, and bronze coins and items of jewellery – some are amazingly beautiful. The law determines that both the finder and the owner of the land are entitled to share in the value of buried treasure; the Hoxne Hoard was bought by the British Museum for almost two million pounds.
What would you do if you found a treasure? In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowds a parable of a person who has found treasure buried in a field; he sells everything he owns, in order to buy the field and make the treasure his own. The next parable tells us of a merchant who sells everything he has to buy a valuable pearl. In each parable, something is found which is so precious that it’s worth giving up everything else. Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is as valuable as that. To be a disciple of Christ is such a precious gift that we should be ready to give up everything that prevents us from following him. It’s a challenging teaching.
Today’s third parable is based on another image that would be familiar to Jesus’ disciples. Fishermen sort through their catch, throwing away the bad fish and keeping the good ones to sell. Jesus will grant his disciples the wisdom to sort through the things of the world, to judge what is worth keeping and what should be thrown away. Everything good comes with a price, but the gift of faith in Christ is beyond price. He asks us to give our whole lives to him.