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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Trespassers In The Kingdom


In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus still tells parables! He knows that people enjoy listening to parables, these stories that are both interesting and somewhat strange. They help us consider the Kingdom of God and what it could be like.

Jesus says,

The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Kingdom of God is like treasure??? Well, that gets our attention! Who would not want some of that?! But is that all that Jesus wants us to know? We need to look a little more closely.

The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field

It is important for us to know that in Jesus' time, people do not keep treasure safe in banks. So it is not unusual for someone to bury his or her money and valuables in the ground in order to keep them safe from people invading the land.

which someone found and hid

Now we are getting to the interesting part. This person who finds the hidden treasure does not own the field. We know this because he buys the field at the end of the parable. So what is that person doing in that field when he finds the buried treasure? Does this not mean that he digs in property that does not belong to him?

What do we call someone on property that does not belong to them?

A trespasser.

Hey, is that fair? Is this not about the Kingdom of God? Is it fair that a trespasser gets to find the treasure?

We can imagine that trespasser discovering the treasure while he digs sneakily in the field. We can imagine him looking around to see if anyone notices his discovery. We can imagine him giggling with wicked glee.

The trespasser quickly covers the treasure with dirt. He finds it, then hides it again! Why does he do that? What does he know?

The trespasser must know how valuable the treasure is. He must also know that it does not belong to him. But he knows that he wants it.

Everything he knows is true.

He must also think that if he shows the treasure to the owner of the field, the owner will not let him keep it. If he keeps the treasure a secret, maybe he can buy the field cheap. We have to wonder if this is true. He hides the treasure again, makes a plan, and buys the field.

This is what the kingdom of God is like??? The kingdom of God is like a trespasser who discovers treasure and tricks the owner into selling the field for cheap?

We must be missing something here. Would not the owner of the field know that his treasure lies buried in the field? How could he forget?! So, although he knows his treasure lies hidden in that field, he sells it anyway. We could say, he lets the trespasser have the treasure in the field. He freely gives it to him.

Who could the owner of the field be?

Who gives freely to trespassers?

Who gives freely to people who have gone where they should not go?

Who gives freely to people who have done what they should not do?

Freely gives? That sounds a lot like someone who forgives. Do we know someone who forgives trespassers? Do we not pray, "forgive us our trespasses"?

Remember how we thought it might not be fair that this trespasser gets to find the hidden treasure? Maybe this is not a parable about fairness.

Thank God—trespassers may find the treasure!

One more thing we can notice. When we thought about the trespasser finding the treasure, we imagined him giggling with wicked glee. But Jesus says,

then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has

Joy is not wicked glee.

Joy is pure.

Joy is perfect.

Joy bubbles over.

Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Finding the treasure changes the trespasser.

Filled with joy, he will never be the same.

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