Thursday, July 21, 2011

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: 1 Kings 3:5,7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Matt 13:44-52

The kingdom - a treasure of great value and letting go in order to possess it, are the phrases that help to capture the central message of this Sunday. This Sunday Jesus uses three parables to help us discover how we could move from life without Christ to life in Christ by living the values of the kingdom. In other words, Jesus gives us concrete examples on personal commitment and response to kingdom values, the treasure of great value. In the first two parables, Jesus uses familiar images and commercial values of his time, which are still valid today. In the first parable, Jesus shows us that once we have discovered the value of the kingdom, we should sell all we own, in order to possess it. We are challenged to give up everything we value most, in order to be part of this kingdom. Therefore it is not so much the treasure, but our personal conviction and commitment to do all we can to live the values of the kingdom. The decisive question for us is whether we are prepared to let go for the sake of possessing Christ fully and live in accordance with the kingdom values that he teaches. Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is much more valuable than anything we possess. That is the treasure that Jesus reveals to us. Therefore there is much wisdom in trying to possess it. In the first reading from the First Book of Kings, Solomon asks for wisdom and discernment. Wisdom is much more than just possessing a lot of things or a long life. It gives someone discernment on what really matters most in life. We know what mattered most in St. Paul’s life. Writing to the Philippians Paul says, “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things, and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)

The Gospel passage once again contains three parables. Let us focus only on the first one – “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which one finds and hides again….” He then goes and sells everything he has in order to buy that field to secure the treasure. The idea obviously is that when one really discovers Jesus Christ, everything else becomes secondary. The person in the parable finds the treasure as it were accidentally, while digging a field that perhaps belongs to someone else. In the same way, one may encounter Jesus Christ completely unexpectedly, and then make all efforts to secure him like the treasure of great value. This implies real personal commitment and transformation of the person. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Just as Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and discernment to make right judgments instead of possessions and long life, we too are challenged to seek such wisdom in order to know what really matters most in life; 2) Like the person who finds a treasure of great value, we too are challenged to seek Christ and his kingdom-values relentlessly, and like Paul to accept the loss of everything in order to live in Christ. 3) Finally we are challenged to treasure Jesus Christ in our lives as something of such value that everything else is of secondary value. Similarly our Catholic faith is so precious that we would risk everything to defend and protect it. Think about it.

©2011 John S. Mbinda
Homily and Music

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