Reflections

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 29, 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

  • 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
  • Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
  • Romans 8:28-30
  • Matthew 13:44-52

Enough is enough!  Doesn’t Jesus have something better to do than speak to us in obscure parables?  I’m not a farmer, baker, gemologist or treasure hunter!  Yet Jesus still speaks to me with specific images that are meant to uncover fundamental truths about the Kingdom of God.  Just how important is this Kingdom?  The answer is, very important.

For three weeks now the Gospel of Matthew has furnished us with parables which are meant to prompt us to discover some new facet of God’s Kingdom.  Remember that it is the Kingdom that Jesus came into our world to preach.  The first words out of Jesus’ mouth in Mark’s gospel proclaim the Kingdom: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Jesus did not come into the world to hand us stone tablets or an extensive list of rules and regulations.  Jesus came to reveal the Kingdom of God by his words and by his works.  Through a series of parables, miracles, and acts of kindness and compassion, Jesus uncovers the many facets of the Kingdom, inspiring the hearts and minds of people, and instilling in them a deep desire to be part of that Kingdom.  It is the face of God that attracts people to the Kingdom, the face so clearly seen in his Son Jesus.  It is that same God that is seen in the faces of those who have handed themselves over to their Lord and Savior, and who continue his redemptive work through their acts of kindness, patience, compassion and love.  

Could Jesus have told us everything we need to know about the Kingdom in one sitting?  I think not, for while the Kingdom of God is accessible and visible in the world that surrounds us it is also imponderable, incapable of being fully understood, incapable of being fully grasped.  With his grasp of the human condition Jesus knew we could never know all there is to know about God’s Kingdom, and that is why he uses parables, to teach us about one facet at a time, one aspect of that Kingdom of which we long to be a part.

In today’s gospel Jesus shares with us several facets of God’s Kingdom, pointing out its extraordinary value, like a hidden treasure or a costly pearl. So valuable is our membership in God’s Kingdom that it calls for a total commitment to preserving it.  The Kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our society, and in our world.  Through the parables of the treasure and pearl, Jesus teaches us that identifying God’s will and living according to the Gospel, are the most precious and worthwhile things in life.  Through Jesus and his Gospel, we come to know and understand the real meaning of life, the will of God for us each day, and the most important things we must do to secure our eternal salvation.

With an entirely different image, Jesus reiterates what he taught us with the parable of the wheat and the weeds.  Speaking of the Kingdom as a dragnet thrown into the sea, we are reminded that God’s Kingdom is made up of good fish and bad fish, of saints and sinners.  As he did when he told us not to pull up the weeds lest we lose some of the grain along with them, Jesus cautions us that the final judgment resulting in reward or punishment is God’s work.  Thus, we must learn to be patient, compassionate and understanding with those who seem to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom.   Let us humbly admit the fact that there are very few of us who are not a mixture of good and evil.

The Kingdom is, indeed, very important, and we will spend a lifetime securing our position in that Kingdom as long as we continue to respond to God’s call.  With the passing of each day may we grow in our appreciation of the precious opportunity we have to be a part of God’s Kingdom.  May we live our lives like Solomon in the first reading, capable of recognizing that which is truly important, that which is truly valuable.   For to have a personal experience of Christ and personal relationship with Him – in other words, to have made Christ’s view of life one’s own – is the most precious of things in all the world. 

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