17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
1Kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
July 29/30, 2023
What is your greatest treasure? What is your pearl of great price? Perhaps the best way for us to answer those questions is to look at our lives. On what do we spend most of our time? On what do we spend most of our money? What preoccupies us? Who or what do we fear losing more than anything else? What choices are we making?
Let’s look what three men, Solomon, Paul, and Jesus have to say about this.
Solomon chose wisdom. He chose wisdom over long life and riches. Long life and riches are things we value very highly in our world. We are strongly attached to them. Society tells us they are necessary and important. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to get and hold on to them. Solomon would be considered foolish in our modern world. To Solomon, a wise, understanding heart had great value, and he was willing to sacrifice riches and life in order to be wise and understanding with others, in order to be able to discern, to know, as God knows and understands.
What about Saint Paul? What did he think? He tells us that above all is the theological virtue of love. Saint Paul makes a bold, almost incredible statement! All things will work for good if we love God. He tells us, in effect, that our greatest treasure is rooted in the First Commandment, i.e., to love God with all our hearts, souls, and strength. Love: knowing what is truly good and choosing what is good. Wisdom is grounded in love. O how misunderstood love is today!
What about Jesus? He is quite clear with us. He asks us if we really understand “all these things.” He says that life with God and with each other in the Kingdom of God is more important that riches and health. We will fully experience the Kingdom of God if and when we get to heaven, and but we partially experience it now in the life of the Church. The Church, even with its struggles, is the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus says God’s kingdom is a great treasure available to us, a great gift given to us, for in it is the very life of God. In the Church we find the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and all the other sacraments through which we receive divine life. Jesus says we should be willing to give all to remain in that grace-filled divine life, that kingdom. We must never separate ourselves from God’s kingdom. Never!
In the Gospel today, Jesus also tells us of the importance of wisdom rooted in love, the kind of wisdom Solomon chose and St. Paul spoke. Not the wisdom of the world, but the ability to know what is of God and what is not, to know what is better and what is the best. Wisdom, to know as God knows and to understand as God understands and to choose as God would have us choose. Jesus says that in God’s kingdom there are fish of every kind and all of them will be hauled ashore someday and be sorted out. He says that in God’s kingdom there is a wisdom that sorts out the good from the bad. So, Jesus also underscores the importance of wisdom in our lives, to be able to know good from evil, to discern God’s will for us in the here and now, and to reject what comes from the Evil One. Such discernment and knowledge is found in God’s Church through the Holy Spirit.
O how our world needs to understand these things! How we need to beg for wisdom in discerning, knowing, and choosing what is good and rejecting what is evil. How much we all need to avoid being deceived by things that pass, and seek out that which endures. Remember, heaven is for eternity. How much we all need to love God more, to obey that First Commandment faithfully, and wisely choose!
All things work for good for those who love God. All things lead us to heaven, to God’s Kingdom, if we love God, a love which renders us wise in knowing as God knows and understanding as God understands and choosing as God would have us choose.
Lest you be thinking that such wisdom is reserved for the educated, the elderly, or Church leaders only, let me reassure you I have found such wisdom, such love… as basic as it may be for them… in mere children, children who have not yet been affected by the false wisdom of our world, children who love and choose wisely because on a basic level, they know what is truly good and valuable in life.
My prayer for all of us today is the prayer of the psalmist in today’s responsorial psalm:
May the law of your mouth, O Lord, be more precious to us that thousands of pieces of gold and silver. Let your kindness comfort us according to your promises. In your compassion, let us live and delight. May we love your commands more than the finest gold… for your decrees reveal, shed light on all things, giving wise understanding even to the simple. Amen!