For three Sundays, the gospel readings have been parables about the kingdom of heaven. We have heard the Parables of the Sower, Weeds and Wheat, Mustard Seed, Yeast, Buried Treasure, Precious Pearl, and Dragnet. What I find interesting about the telling of the first two parables is that after each one it appears that Jesus provides an explanation for their meaning. However, the Dominican Scripture Scholar, Barbara Reid, OP, reminds us that before the parables were written down, they were told and retold by people who added details according to the circumstances and situations in which they lived. First century story tellers used allegories to connect features of Jesus’ parables with their own political, religious, and community happenings. Barbara goes on to say that people usually see God as the sower in the first parable. It is God, the farmer, who throws the word out to good people as well as to bad people. The parable is an illustration of God’s all-inclusive love for human beings.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, the early Christian community recognized Jesus as the landowner. The field is the world, the good seed is the children of God, and the weeds are evildoers. The parable is an illustration of God’s love for those who endure in a world of evil through their persistent patience and their enduring faith.
With all this said, we come to the Parable of the Buried Treasure and the Parable of the Precious Pearl. These two parables are found only in the Gospel of Matthew and they belong with each other as did the first two parables. The usual interpretation of these two parables is that Jesus is both the hidden treasure and the precious pearl. As we go through life, we are the unnamed person and the merchant who first seek Jesus and then someday find Jesus. It is up to us to sell all that we have to possess him.
But I suggest to you that because God and Jesus are the central characters of the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, when it comes to the Parable of the Buried Treasure and the Precious Pearl, God is the unnamed person who is preoccupied with purchasing the field. God is the merchant who is infatuated with obtaining the precious pearl. In other words, God spends hours admiring the two prizes. God dreams about the two valuables all through the night. Most importantly, God tells Jesus that for the buried treasure and the precious pearl no cost is too great, not even his life. This makes us the valued treasure. This makes us the precious pearl. How then are we promoting the kingdom of heaven through who we are and what we do?
Through your thoughtful evaluation, generous financial contributions, and trusting patience, our worship space is becoming more and more inviting. The community of St. Matthew gathers and worships beneath LED lights that provide an inviting, welcoming, and comfortable space to worship.
But the Church of St. Matthew was built with clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are a series of windows along the top of a building’s wall, usually at or near the roof line. According to biblical passages, the temple built by King Solomon had clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are often placed in basilicas and the naves of Romanesque and Gothic churches to provide indirect light that draws our eyes heavenward.
In the 1970’s, plexiglass panes were a low-cost treatment for our clerestory windows. However, to help combat heat loss, fiberglass insulation was laid on top of the panes. This made a striking and unintended change in the character of our worship space.
Nevertheless, with parish volunteers instead of payed employees, with renting out space in the parish center and the social hall, with your weekly donations, with your special project contributions, and with your Scrip card purchases, we have a few but not all the dollars needed to replace the plexiglass with thermal glass.
In the very near future, the estimated cost to replace the windows will be known. Through our working together in projects like preparing strawberries for the State Fair, volunteering for and/or participating in the Fall Festival, purchasing tickets and attending the Fix-It Dinner where our funds are matched by the Catholic Foresters, and by your continued weekly contributions, everyone is involved in the life and direction of our parish. Because we are God’s valued treasure; because we are God’s precious pearl, the kingdom of heaven is in our hands.
Fr. Bob Kelly