First Reading (1 Kings 3. 5 – 12). Responsorial Psalm: 119. Romans 8. 28 – 30. Gospel:
Matthew 13.44 – 52.
There is only one treasure that brings happiness and that treasure is Jesus. The man in the first
parable in the Gospel today found the treasure (kingdom of heaven) and went off happy (Matt
13:44). Do we have to set out on a journey to find this treasure and do we need a map? Yes, we do!
The journey is the journey into our own hearts, and the map has been given us by Jesus himself.
In the first two parables in the Gospel today (Matt 13:44-46), the men sold everything they had
to acquire either the treasure or the pearl. Searching for Jesus and the kingdom of heaven means
we face choices and have to make decisions, sometimes hard decisions that we would prefer not to
have to make. There will be passing treasures that in the short-term are tempting but don’t offer us
the happiness we really want. In the first reading, Solomon passed up on fleeting treasures in order
to have God’s wisdom to discern between good and evil (1 Kings 3:5,7-12). Jesus is the real
treasure for whom we sometimes carry our cross in order to find Him; he is the treasure who gives
us real happiness. By carrying our cross well we will discover a pearl inside us, and that pearl is
A pearl is formed in an oyster which secretes mother-of-pearl to form its shell. When a foreign
body, such as a grain of sand, enters the oyster, it is surrounded and cut off from the remainder of
the oyster by mother-of-pearl building up around it forming a pearl. This is the way an oyster
naturally defends itself. What began as a disaster for the oyster has, in fact, turned it into a most
beautiful jewel. Sometimes it is like that for us too. What we thought was a disaster or cross turns
out for our benefit. As the second reading said,
We know that all things work for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28)
There will be passing treasures that in the short-term are tempting but don’t offer us the happiness
we really want. Jesus is the real treasure for whom we sometimes carry our cross in order to find
Him; he is the treasure who gives us real happiness. By carrying our cross well we will discover a
pearl inside us, and that pearl is Jesus.
Do we have to set out on a journey to find this treasure, this pearl, Jesus? Do we need a map?
Yes, we do! The journey is the journey into our own hearts, and the map has been given us by
Jesus himself. How should we begin? By praying and receiving the sacraments frequently and
getting to know our Bible. I believe that none of us is praying enough. That’s why there are so
many problems. If we all prayed more, I believe many situations would work out much better. So
pray more, and receive the sacraments more often, and get to know our Bible so that the pearl,
Jesus, may grow within us, a treasure that will not let us down. Then we can go off happy like the
man in the parable. (Matt 13:44)
When bad things happen, we need support and encouragement. That is why the second reading
today (Rom 8:28-30) is cherished by those who love to read Scripture and valued by those who
attend prayer meetings. It is one of the passages of the Bible that gives reassurance when things go
wrong. In the second reading we heard Paul state: We know that all things work for good for those
who love God (Rom 8:28).
It is a promise for those who love God, and the promise is that God turns everything to good, that
God will somehow or other bring the best out of a bad situation for those who love him: We know
that all things work for good for those who love God.
St. Paul is promising that evil does not have the last word. God has the last word for those who
love him, and that last word is that God will turn everything to their good. Paul is certainly not
denying that bad things can happen to those who love God, but he gives the reassurance that God
will turn everything to their good.
There are many examples of God turning evil to good in the lives of those who love him. One
example is Joseph who was sold as a slave by his brothers to traders going down to Egypt, but in
Egypt he became second-in-command. During the famine in Canaan his brothers came down to
Egypt for food and he reassured them saying that the evil they did to him had been turned to good
by God because now his family would be spared of starvation through him (Gen 50:20). Every
year during the Easter Vigil, we hear in the Easter Proclamation or Exultet: O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a redeemer
It is saying that because of the sin of Adam, Christ came. God righted the sin of Adam through
Christ. Sin is always evil and always to be avoided but God in his own way can bring good out of
evil. O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a redeemer.
The greatest example of God turning evil to good is Calvary. The death of Christ by means of
capital punishment became the means to our salvation. Without the cross, there would have been
no resurrection. Therefore Paul’s teaching that all things work for good for those who love God is
fulfilled above all in the life of Jesus. Jesus loved his Father in heaven, and experienced evil, but
was raised up in the resurrection.
This faith and hope in God, expressed by St. Paul in the second reading, is also seen in the other
characters in the readings in today’s Mass. In the first reading when Solomon became king, he did
not ask God for riches or other blessings but for the ability to distinguish between good and evil (1
Kings 3:5-12). God granted his request and he is known as the wisest person in the Old Testament.
The ability to distinguish between good and what is not good is also seen in the characters in Jesus’
parables in the Gospel today: a man has the ability to see how valuable a purchase this field would
be because of its hidden treasure (Matt 13:44); a businessman has the ability to see the value of this
one pearl above all others (Matt 13:45-46). Just as these men can distinguish between what is
really valuable and what is not, likewise a Christian is to distinguish between what leads to God
and what does not. Those who love God give up what is not leading to God. Solomon and these
two characters in Jesus’ parables had the ability to see beyond what is all around to what is most
important. They remind me of Martha’s sister Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus when he visited
their house while Martha herself was busy about the house (Luke 10:38-42). Those who place God
first have the love of God that allows them to understand, as St. Paul says, that God can turn
everything to their good.
However the story doesn’t end there. Solomon fell out of love with God and became morally
corrupt. While not the only person in the Old Testament who was or became morally corrupt, in
the case of Solomon it is more shocking because he made the promise as we heard in our first
reading. Therefore, in a sense, he is the Old Testament figure closest to Judas because Judas also
seemed to have great promise since he had been put in charge of the apostles’ common fund (John
13:29). The third parable Jesus tells in the Gospel today also causes us to reflect on the disaster of
becoming morally corrupt (Matt 13:47-50). Jesus says that just as fishermen separate fish when
they bring the nets to shore, there will be separation of people in the next life.
There are plenty of examples in Scripture of the mess some people get into when they do not love
God or fall out of love with God and cannot allow God to turn everything in their lives to good. On
the other hand, evil does not have the last word. God has the last word for those who love him, and
that last word is that God will turn everything to their good. We know that all things work for good
for those who love God. (Rom 8:28)