July 30, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME –  CYCLE “A” –  7/30/17  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!   Peace and goodness to each of you this day!

St. Augustine of Hippo, whose feast day is just month away, is one of the greatest philosopher and thinker that the Catholic Church has ever known.  Our theology today as Catholic Christians is still, in many ways, rooted back to St. Augustine’s thinking and writing 1700 years ago.  And we know that St. Augustine was not always SAINT Augustine.  In fact, from his late teens to his early thirties, young St. Augustine, was not such a good guy.  He stole the property of others.  He lied and cheated.  He drank a lot, just about every day.  He had several scandalous relationships with different women.  He even had a child, a son, out of wedlock.  He treated others terribly, and used others frequently only to get what he wanted.  His was a shallow, selfish life of debauchery.

All through his twenties, the intellectually brilliant Augustine wanted to a Christian.  His mother was extremely devout, in fact, she too is a Saint, Saint Monica.  His father converted to Christianity on his deathbed.  But young St. Augustine, was unable to give up his heathen lifestyle.  After God granted him the grace of conversion, Augustine wrote that all his sins that he had enjoyed so much, and had thought were what was going to give him joy in this life, were nothing compared to the treasure that he had gained, in coming to Faith.  St. Augustine writes in his Confessions, “How sweet did it become to me, all at once, to be without those trifles!  What I had previously feared to lose, was now a joy to be without.  For You cast them away from me, You True and Highest Sweetness.  You cast them out and entered in Yourself, sweeter than all other pleasure”.

This is the same message these parables from St. Matthew’s Gospel are trying to convey to us today.  Both of these men had found something new and very valuable.  One discovers while he is working in a field, a buried treasure.  The other, a merchant, finds a pearl of great price.  In some ways these two men are the same, and in other ways they are quite different.

The first man is a laborer plowing his employer’s field.  He’s just going about his work, when his plow catches on something that he must first take as a rock.  Upon closer examination, it is a container filled with silver and gold coins.  He realizes that this surprising find can change his entire life, and bring him and his family the first financial security that he has ever known.  But there’s a problem.  The law of the day said that buried treasure belonged by right to the person on whose property it was found.  Rather than just running off with the treasure right away, the man buries the treasure again and finishes off his work.  But he doesn’t forget where he buried it.  And when he finishes his day’s work, he makes his employer an offer he can’t refuse for that section of his field.  And when his offer is accepted, the man is overjoyed.  The purchase must have cost him everything that he owns, and maybe he even had to borrow money to buy the land, but the treasure that is now his, is worth far more!   He doesn’t care about the cost.  He now owns the treasure, and he is overjoyed!

The second parable is a little different.  In this story, the merchant is looking for treasure.  Years of buying and selling have sharpened his eye, and refined his taste.  One day, while walking through the bazaar, he sees a pearl so large and flawless, that it take his breath away!  Buying it, will take selling everything else that he owns.  But it doesn’t matter to the man!  He sacrifices gladly.  He has found perfection.  He has found what he was looking for, all along.  And no price was too high.  The beautiful pearl was his!

 

“God’s Kingdom is like that” is what Jesus is saying to us today.  Neither one of these two men from the parables, thinks for a minute about the sacrifice that they are making.  They know that the sacrifice will bring them much greater reward, satisfaction, and joy.  So too it has to be for us as Catholic Christians.  There are definite costs involved in following Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church.  We can’t be like everybody else.  We have to have a different set of values.  We have to get out of ourselves and live for God and for others.  When we concentrate only on the cost, the sacrifices, the difficulties of really following Jesus, we can make our religion grim and forbidding.  And nobody wants to be part of a religion or a faith community that is grim and forbidding.  Instead, with these parables, Jesus reminds us to concentrate the great reward, the true and everlasting joy, of living the Catholic Christian life!  We should all have that joy!  That joy is attractive.  The reward of our Faith is so much greater than the cost.  And that should fill all of us with great joy!

Today God is offering us so much more!  In a hundred years from now, we won’t even remember the costs of discipleship.  But hundred years from now, almost all of us will be enjoying the joy of the great reward God is offering us.  Let’s stay focused on that reward.  And may it get us through the challenges of our lives.

+  May God bless us today with His true joy, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…              AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…  Pray for us !!!