Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father Walter Schu, LC
Matthew 13: 44-52
“The kingdom of heaven 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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come into your presence seeking to know you better. I believe that you take the lead in seeking me. You want me to find you. I trust that in your mercy you will bring me to intimacy with you. I open my heart today to receive your friendship.
Petition: Lord, help me to strive for the for the Kingdom of heaven for myself and others.
1. The Treasure of the Kingdom: “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Christ’s heart overflows with irrepressible zeal for the Kingdom of heaven. He longs for everyone who hears him to fall in love with that Kingdom. “His descriptions of the Kingdom flow from his lips like water over a waterfall — his vision is so rich and vibrant that language itself can barely contain it” (Fr. John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, 184). At times we stumble upon the Kingdom of heaven almost by accident, like the treasure in the field. But we know that treasure is worth more than all the earthly fields we can ever hope to possess. Other times we make a long and diligent search before encountering the Kingdom, like the pearl of great price. Its beauty captivates our hearts.
2. The Joy of the Kingdom: Though the Kingdom of heaven sparkles like a many-faceted gem, one feature always shines forth: Discovering it fills the heart with joy. Have we ever caught a glimpse of the Kingdom? It is there in the ardent vigor of thousands of young people acclaiming Pope-Emeritus Benedict at World Youth Day. It is there in the reverent silence of a lone adorer in a Eucharistic chapel. It is there in the enduring strength of present-day mothers such as Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, who give up their lives for their unborn children. The Kingdom of heaven is worth everything and demands everything. Have we sold all we possess in order to attain it? What still holds us back? What earthly plots do we still cling to, fearing to sell them for a treasure beyond what we dare hope for?
3. “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth”: The Kingdom of heaven is also like a net thrown into the sea. Not all that the net collects is worth keeping. So, too, not everyone enters into the Kingdom. What a sudden contrast to the joy of the Kingdom that pervades the first two images! Why does Christ include this third and final description of the Kingdom? He knows how easy it is for us to forget the most important truths of our lives: the reality of the last judgment, for which we should be preparing at every moment. Christ knows that the stakes are high, and we need to be reminded of them in order to have the courage to sell everything to reach the Kingdom. “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035). Let us continue to pray and sacrifice, so that one day we and all the souls entrusted to us will arrive to the eternal joys of the Kingdom of heaven.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be generous and give up everything for the sake of your Kingdom in my life and in the lives of those souls entrusted to me. You know that I cannot do so on my own. Help me with your grace to be generous.
Resolution: I will be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in responding to the opportunities to bring someone closer to Christ’s Kingdom today.