The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who discovers oil in a neighbour's field.
In his excitement he sells all that he has in order to buy that field
.... and then he extracts the oil.
This seems to be all about looking after "number one", insurance for the future.
However the first two examples in the parable show irrational enthusiasm.
There is no practical value to these things.
They won't feed or house the family.
They are just so wonderful that "I" have just got to have them.
It is the sort of absolute fixation which can so easily lead to disaster.
It is an excitement that, as we have seen so often in history, can easily become misplaced.
The religious wars or crusades or other religious excesses are obvious examples.
How can we approach the God who is Love with blood on our hands
Or even with a history of schism, of separation, of assumed righteousness?
The net analogy panders to the concepts of the time: There will be a judgement.
There is a "hell", which "the good" will evade but under what criteria, he does not spell out.
However that is at the "end of the age", not now. It is only then that any separation will occur.
For now we are all loved for our peculiarities, our differences, yet none loved more than another.
It is not for us to judge, for our criteria are not God's criteria.
Yet this little section appeals to the righteous, justifies their behaviour,
their need to dominate and control in the interest of the eternal salvation of the sheep under their care.
For, they argue, it is only by separating ourselves now that we can be sure of a good result in the end;
fixated on the contract that man made for God to sign.
It all sounds so unlike what Jesus usually teaches.
Readings generally end at verse 50, ignoring the final comments.
In doing so I wonder if they miss the whole point of this section.
You see I think that Jesus (verse 51) goes on to say
"Is that what you understand?" and they reply "Yes".
At which point we come to the twist that is often missed
for Jesus could be saying, effectively,
"Once you become my follower you need to rethink some of this old teaching.
Bring out new treasures, new ideas. All that stuff is what the Pharisees are teaching.
Yet most sermons focus on one or all of those first three statements about the Kingdom,
and the false teaching that Jesus spoke against is perpetuated once again into the halls of the faithful,
who lap it up like milk and go out to burn a few more heretics, or the modern equivalent.