Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Matthew 13:44-46: A Hidden Treasure
Jesus told these parables: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

These stories encourage us—there really is a “hidden treasure” meant for us.

Interestingly, the emphasis is not on the finding of the treasure or the pearl, but on what the person does when they find it: “he went and sold all he had and bought it”. Taking hold of the treasure that God wants to give us involves our whole person. We cannot search for the meaning of our life with a bit of ourselves; it’s all or nothing. Now that sounds rather frightening for us human beings: is it possible to risk everything, to “sell all we have”? Perhaps the key lies in the joy which the man who finds the hidden treasure discovers. When we discover a joy that comes from God, a joy which is authentic, then our attachment to other things will be loosened, our priorities changed. And we will be ready to let our lives be changed in a way we could not foresee, and which we could not have managed simply by will-power.

The first story underlines how God gives a hidden treasure, independently of our effort, even when we do not know what we are looking for. It is only when the person unexpectedly trips over the treasure that they realize that it is what they wanted all along.

In contrast, the merchant who finds the pearl of great value was already searching for pearls. Although the Gospel does not say so explicitly, he must certainly already have possessed a collection of pearls. And in fact, it is the experience he acquired in searching for and buying them which led him to discover the big one. Much more than we usually realize, we prepare for the big decisions of life by the small steps of trust we take in our daily life.

But the pearls the merchant has also create a difficulty for him. He had invested a lot of time and energy to collect them. Now he has to let them all go in order to take hold of something more important, and this is hard. We too need to discern between what is good and what is better. We have many things in our life which in themselves are good—study, travel, work and so on. But even good things can become distractions! We can spend our time doing good things for others and having interesting experiences, while the centre of our life remains curiously empty. The merchant, although he has found many good pearls, remains thirsty for the one of great value, the pearl which constitutes the core of God’s call for him.

- In what way is my faith like a treasure or a pearl of great value?

- Do I identify more with the person who searches or with the one who finds unexpectedly?

- Have I ever experienced a joy which changed my priorities, which caused me to be less attached to things which were previously important to me?

- How do I choose between what is good and what is better?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 April 2024