17th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

July 23, 2014

17th Sunday Of Ordinary Time – Year A.

Commentary Theme for this Sunday:

“The Courage To Sell Off Everything”.

The first reading and the Gospel are joined together by the theme of the search for great treasure.

For King Solomon the greatest treasure was the ‘wisdom’ to govern his people well. For us the treasure is the ‘Kingdom of God’. Whoever discovers it is full of joy and is ready to change their whole life to have it.

The second reading tells us that God will direct all events so that we may have the courage to make all the right choices when challenging the options offered to us.

Let us abandon things that have no eternal value and open up our hearts fully to God so that he may take charge.

Guide to ‘Live’ the Sunday Liturgy:

It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.

If at all possible, share this Bible Reflection time with a family member, a friend or someone you wish to bring to Christ. Jesus said in Mt. 18:20 – “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”

These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests, bishops and Catholic theologians who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.

These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.

‘Daily Reflections’ and a ‘Prayer’ are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. With faith and perseverance, we will start to put into practice the Lord’s teachings; begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love, God’s will, and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. Meditations and Prayer on the Reflections should be done daily – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

It may be necessary to pray and repeat the study of the Bible Readings and Commentaries more than once, or even on a daily basis, if you feel that you have not yet grasped the Lord’s special message for you.

“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.

In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.

Saint Augustine.

Commentaries:

1 Kings 3:5, 7-12.

The first reading of today informs us that before King Solomon began his reign, he went to offer a sacrifice at the shrine in Gabaon. During the night, God appeared to him in a dream and told him to ask whatever he liked since it would be granted to him. Solomon did not ask for anything for himself: neither wealth, nor health, nor victory over his enemies; he was preoccupied with something else. He felt too young and inexperienced to govern a great and numerous people. He knew that whoever was in power could be easily misled and corrupted by sympathies, emotions, whims, and unchecked passions. By trusting and being friends with those who are unjust to the people it could lead him into making serious mistakes.

He therefore asked God for “a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?” God was pleased that Solomon has asked “how to discern between good and evil” and granted him a heart shrewd and wise as none before had and none will have after him.

If we clearly perceive what we are called to do, it helps to shape our prayer for the spiritual gifts that are available to us. Often prayer becomes a conversation with no real subject, a meandering stream of words that is frustrated at the source, or a hysterical rant at God because things are not going well. When we have such conversations with each other they are seldom resolved with any satisfaction. It is no wonder, that the person who approaches God with discernment, like the conversation that knows its object, will be much more likely to receive an answer.

There is an indication that King Solomon was already on the road to wisdom when he asked God for it. As God points out, he could have requested a long list, a fortune, and the sweetest of revenges. Instead he asks for what he really needs, the ability to lead an uncountable people as he was a young man of little experience. This is not only wisdom, but also a sense of vocation.

Solomon’s option prepares us for the message we are going to hear in the Gospel of today. Jesus will invite us to choose wisely in life, and to prepare for the kingdom of God above everything else.

Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-130.

The Psalm is a call to praise God, because of his care he exercises for his creation in providing food. In Jewish tradition it has been used as a prayer to ‘pray several times a day’; and by Christians as a ‘grace prayer’ before meals.

Romans 8:28-30.

The first words of this reading are very consoling. It tells us how all that happens, the disasters, wars, natural calamities and even the sins, nothing of all this is strange to God. He cannot be taken by surprise; he “turns everything to the good” and to the realization of his plan of love.

The second part of the reading (29-30) tells us about the steps that lead to salvation. There is first of all, seemingly predestination from eternity on the part of God who chooses those who are destined to become his children. This is followed by the call: those who are invited to accept the Gospel of Christ presented to them through preaching.

After the call is the justification, that is, their interior transformation through baptism, and finally there is the glorification when their new condition of ‘Children of God’ will be manifested to them.

The first stage of this course, ‘predestination’, is the one that raises some perplexity. Does it mean that God chooses some and rejects others? No. It only means that even before being called to salvation, all human beings are the objects of the eternal love of God.

Only some of them, of course, will be able to come to know the Gospel of Christ and receive baptism; but God wants all the others to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).

Matthew 13:44-52.

Jesus speaks of the ‘kingdom’ more than fifty times in Matthew’s Gospel, warning people to repent in the face of it, promising its joy to the poor, assigning seats in it, barring some from entering it, praying dgfev online casino for it to come, announcing it as ‘Good News’, offering up images and stories about it, confiding the secrets of it and handing over the keys to it. It is one of the central themes in Matthew, and is instructive to read all twenty-eight chapters alert for all the references.

After you’ve read everything that Matthew has to say about the reign of God, try painting a picture of it in your mind. Buried treasure, a fabulous pearl, a dragnet tangled with garbage and gifts from the sea and a place where the poor are blessed and are happy. The hidden treasure is the presence of God within. The kingdom of God is very close. It begins within us, in our hearts of the need of a loving personal relationship with God and our awakening to the reality of God’s personal relationship with us. The ‘hidden treasure’ is the presence of God within us. For some it comes in an unexpected moment of grace (the treasure unexpectedly unearthed), for others it is the result of diligent searching for years (the pearl seeker).

Today’s Gospel reading is the last part of the third Sermon of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. We read three parables today. In chapter 13, Jesus gives us many striking images to help us to understand what the kingdom of God is all about. One simile is that of a ‘Hidden Treasure’. The one who finds it again, goes away and sells everything he owns, for he has to buy the field (Mt 13:44). A merchant, looking for precious pearls, finds one. He is prepared to sell everything he has in order to buy it (Mt 13:45). In the parable of the ‘Pearls’, the person has been searching for them; this is what the kingdom of God is like.

Sometimes God’s kingdom is experienced as a gift. It was always there but we did not know it. Jesus helps us to realize that the kingdom is near. It is actually in our midst (Lk 17:21). But we are often completely unaware of God’s presence in our lives. Then one day something happens and the person all of a sudden becomes aware of God’s presence and welcomes him into his heart with joy. Others are searching for the kingdom. They want to give meaning to their lives. When they

find it in the person and the message of Jesus they are overwhelmed by joy and are ready to follow him whatever the cost. The new life Jesus offers is so precious that everything has to be sacrificed to obtain it. It must be welcomed not just with the head, but also with the whole heart. There is no room for compromise.

In the third and final parable Jesus compares the kingdom of Heaven to a ‘Drag Net’. A fisherman who throws a net into the water cannot tell beforehand what kind of fish he will catch. The net takes in whatever fish that swim into it. The selection comes when the net has been pulled ashore. The good fish are kept and the useless ones are thrown away. The kingdom of Heaven is likewise offered to all. Nobody is automatically excluded. But the way each person responds is of vital importance. God invites all, but whether we will be chosen to enter at the end of our lives depends on our answer ‘NOW’ and the choices that we make from now on, before the dragnet is cast!

The dragnet also describes a Church that is catholic, a mixum-gatherum of all sorts, races and languages and characters: of sinners who could yet be saints and of saints who know they might yet be sinners. Jesus’ parables remind us of certain priorities for a person of faith.

Jesus is challenging us to accept God’s gift of ‘Treasure’ and we would begin to see things as God sees them and the discovery would galvanize us into action, and a different world would open up before us. Having the right priorities that are in harmony with the priorities of God is what constitutes ‘true wisdom’. Wisdom is what God offers to every believer, an opportunity to begin a new life.

Matthew is the scribe trained for the ‘kingdom of heaven’ who brings from his storeroom both old and new: stories and sayings that date back to the historical Jesus, combined with his own reflection and arrangement of this material to apply the Gospel to new situations facing the Christian community. It is a valuable legacy for those who pass on the faith today.

In King Solomon’s case it was the care of God’s people. In our case, it is love and concern for our neighbour in accord within what God wants for that neighbour.

‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.

Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the

‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:

 

Almighty God and Father, on the… of the week following the

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year A, we reflect on …

Sun… For King Solomon, the greatest treasure was wisdom and discernment. What is your greatest treasure? To find out, ask yourself, who or what comes first in your life?

MonDo we know what the purposes of our lives are? We have all been given different gifts and all have different roles to carry out in God’s plan of salvation. If we clearly perceive what we are called to do, it helps to shape our prayers for the spiritual gifts that are available to us to fulfil our missions. Do we use our gifts for our own purposes or for the kingdom of God? It is our choice.

TuesThe gift of Wisdom enables us to consider the eternal truths, to judge all things by them, to set the right value on salvation and the means to it, and to relish the things of God. It illuminates the intellect, moderates the passions, rectifies the affections and directs the will. To the soul it brings vigour and energy, facility in well-doing, contempt of earthly riches and, most precious of all, union with God. The power to see things as God sees them. Discernment will help us gain the ability to see God’s presence and operation in any happening or process.

WedThe second part of the Romans reading of today tells us about the steps that lead to salvation. All are chosen to become God’s children. This is followed by the call to accept the Gospel of Christ. After the call is justification, that is our transformation through baptism, and finally there is the glorification when our new condition of ‘children of God’ will be manifested in us. Only some will come to know the Gospel of Christ and receive baptism; but God wants all the others also to be saved. Do the way we live our lives show that we want to be saved?

Thurs… After you’ve read everything that Matthew has to say about the reign of God, meditate and try to paint pictures of it in your mind. The ‘hidden treasure’ is the presence of God within. The kingdom of God is very close. It begins within us, in our hearts with the need of a loving relationship with God and our awakening to the reality of God’s personal relationship with us.

FridWhen we find the kingdom we will become overwhelmed with joy and we will be ready to follow our Lord and Saviour, whatever the cost. The new life that Jesus offers is so precious that everything must be sacrificed to obtain this ‘pearl of great price’.

Sat… The dragnet describes a Church that is truly catholic, a mixum-gatherum of all sorts, races, languages and characters: of sinners who could yet be saints and saints who know that they may yet be sinners. ‘Every saint has a past and every sinner a future”. What will your future be?

Prayer after the Daily Reflection.

Father, we pray for wisdom and discernment to have the right priorities that are in harmony with You Lord. May we have the ability to see things as Christ sees them to galvanize us into action to love and have compassion for all people.

May Your Church and Your word always remind us of the precepts of those who by their choice have chosen to live in the everlasting joy of the ‘kingdom of God’ here on earth.

This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.

“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.

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