Readings and Reflections with Cardinal Tagle: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 27,2014
God says to Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” “The Lord was pleased that Solomon” asked for an understanding heart instead of for long life or riches. For with such a request, God can work miracles. “All things work for good for those who love God.” The desire of Solomon is what characterizes the heart of the man who sells all he has to buy the treasure-bearing field. The desire of Solomon is what sets apart the merchant who risks his whole livelihood to buy what he judges to be the “pearl of great price.” They can make these sacrifices with certainty because that treasure, that pearl corresponds to the deepest longings of the “understanding heart “ – it is Christ himself.
“Lord Jesus, reveal to me the true riches of your kingdom. Help me to set my heart on you alone as the treasure beyond compare with any other. Free my heart of any inordinate desires or attachment to other things that I may freely give to you all that I have in joy and gratitude for all that you have given to me. May I always find joy and delight in your presence.” In your Might Name, I pray. Amen.
1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12 – You have asked for wisdom.
Please click this link to watch the video on Reading 1 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12 – You have asked for wisdom by Cardinal Chito Tagle
The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
“O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king
to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him:
“Because you have asked for this—
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
The word of the Lord.
Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
R. (97a) Lord, I love your commands.
I have said, O LORD, that my part
is to keep your words.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
For I love your command
more than gold, however fine.
For in all your precepts I go forward;
every false way I hate.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Rom 8:28-30 – God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Please click this link to watch the video on Reading II Rom 8:28-30 – God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son by Cardinal Chito Tagle
Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.
The word of the Lord.
Mt 13:44-52 – He sells all that he has and buys the field.
Please click this link to watch the video on Mt 13:44-52 – He sells all that he has and buys the field by Cardinal Chito Tagle
Please click this link to watch the video on Sermon 707: Solomon’s Prayer – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time A by Fr. Robert Barron
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
I have seen a lot of people who have met the Lord in a very momentous way proclaim that, “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” They were converted and have decided to make a complete turnaround in their lives. They have realized their wrongdoings and have repented of their sins and old ways. They have given up all that have separated them from the Lord and have allowed the Spirit to prevail in all their affairs. They have led new lives all for the sake of the kingdom of heaven which they have acknowledged and believed because of their faith in Jesus, as Savior and Redeemer. They have given up their old lives in exchange for what they consider the pearl of great price.
To show their, deep love and appreciation for all that the Lord has poured into their lives they have committed to abide by His Word and have obeyed Him unconditionally.
In their lives there has been nothing more important and of great value than reaching their true home with the Father. In their dealings with others, there is nothing more important than Jesus that no amount of differences or conflict can ever isolate or separate them from God’s Church. They have found the hidden treasure of being with Christ.
Truly they have found the very essence of their existence. They have the pearl of great price and will never part with it. They have decided never to turn back as they taste and experience the kingdom of heaven!
“Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Jesus is the only treasure we should all have. To keep the pearl of great price, we need to re-align our lives to Christ!
“I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
Heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for the imperishable treasure you have given us in the gift of your Son Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, may your word take deep root in my heart and transform my way of thinking, discerning, and acting. May your Spirit open my ears to hear and understand the word of God in the Scriptures that I may revere and treasure both the Old and the New Testaments which God has prepared for all who desire to enter his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Help me to be a diligent student and faithful disciple of your word.” We pray this in Your Name. Amen.
Reflection 2 – A Taste of Heaven
The first words we utter in the morning can be a very effective way of knowing our mental and emotional condition. If we wake up in the morning and we say, ‘Good morning, Lord,’ we have a peaceful and happy disposition for the day. But if we say, ‘Good Lord, it’s morning,’ that means a rough day is ahead of us.
Every morning we have every reason to thank and praise God. This is easy to see for those people who are simple and humble, the child-like – people of the Beatitudes. Jesus praised the heavenly Father for them: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for what you have hidden from the clever and the learned, you have revealed to the merest children”(Mt 11:25). These are the ones who have discovered the mysteries of the Kingdom and who clearly see the wonders that God does at every moment of every day.
But for people who are steeped in selfishness and worldly attractions, unfortunately, that is not the case. Their greed for material things, and their insatiable egoistic desires made their eyes blind to the supernatural and heavenly realities, which are the true and lasting treasures. This is what Saint Pope John Paul II referred to when he said, “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” The scourge of this present humanity is materialism. When it rules, the spiritual matters invariably disappear, and the true and lasting treasures lose their value.
Last Sunday, we reflected on the terrible reality of hell, the unquenchable fire of eternal punishment. For this Sunday, let us fix our eyes on the infinitely priceless treasure of heaven. The Gospel gives three parables of the Kingdom of God, about heaven. Just as hell is not only a geographical place, but is rather “the state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed” (CCC, no. 1033), so also is heaven not really a physical place. Indeed, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (no.1024). In other words, if hell is the state of being away from God, heaven, on the other hand, is the state of being in the presence of God, being with God.
The good news is that even though we are still on earth, it is possible for us to have a taste and a glimpse of heaven. This happens in and through Jesus, the true God in human flesh. The early Fathers of the Church loved to refer to Jesus as the “autobasileia.” “Auto” means “self” and “basileia” means “kingdom.” Jesus is himself the Kingdom of God. To enter the Kingdom of God, therefore, is to enter into a relationship with Jesus. When we are with Jesus, we are in a state of supreme happiness for we are with God. We are in heaven, our greatest treasure.
How do we come into direct contact with God while on earth? How do we get some taste and glimpse of heaven on earth? Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Liturgy is the act in which we believe that God enters our lives and that we touch Him…We come into contact with God. He comes to us – and we are illumined by Him” (“Light of the World”, p. 155). In a very unique and special way, Jesus is really present in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist. Saint Pope John Paul II said, “The liturgy we celebrate on earth is a mysterious participation in the heavenly liturgy” (Angelus, Nov. 3, 1996). He further said that, in fact, “It is the eternal worship of Heaven, but it is also steeped in time.” (Address on Liturgy to the US Bishops,1998). A famous biblical scholar in the US, Dr. Scott Hahn, said, “When Jesus comes again at the end of time, he will not have a single drop more glory than he has right now upon the altars and in the tabernacles of our churches. God dwells among mankind, right now, because the Mass is heaven on earth” (The Lamb’s Supper, p.116). St. John Chrysostom attested to this truth: “When Mass is celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”
In the Gospel this Sunday, the man who found the buried treasure in a field sold everything he had in order to buy that field. The merchant who found the pearl of great price sold everything in order to buy it. Jesus is talking about the priceless value of heaven that one can readily sacrifice everything just to possess it. Can we let go of our valued possessions in favor of heaven? Are we willing to invest all our hard-earned savings of a lifetime on the Lord’s promise of eternal glory in heaven?
But heaven is not just some abstract idea. Heaven is real, for it is Jesus himself. And Jesus is here with us in the Mass! Are we ready to leave behind our tasks at home just to be here at Mass on Sunday? Are we ready to sacrifice that baseball game, or forget about that cold beer with our friends and taste the sweetness of heaven here in the Mass with Jesus? Is that beach party next Sunday more interesting than the experience of heaven on earth in the Mass?
This is something we have to think about very seriously. We are Catholics. We have the fullness of the Truth. We have all the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. And we encounter and receive Jesus really present in the Eucharist. Unfortunately, many of us take our Catholic faith for granted. We often tend to neglect Sunday Mass. This is very sad.
St. Anselm said, “A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death.” St. Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart bewailed the people’s lack of reverence towards the Eucharist: “Ah, what continual irreverence he receives from man in his own house! In his humility, he deigns to dwell in our midst, yet how often is he neglected and forgotten, left in empty churches, while in his turn, he never grows weary of this lonely vigil. Truly ‘Love is not loved!’”
Let us ask God to continually grant us the gift of wisdom, like the one granted to Solomon, and to open the eyes of our faith so that each time we come to Mass, we will be able to see the infinite beauty and priceless value of heaven – despite the distractions and limitations of this material world. May we eagerly look forward to every Sunday as a great blessing and a precious opportunity for us to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, have a taste of “heaven on earth”, and begin to enjoy eternal happiness now and for eternity (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).
Reflection 3 – The kingdom of heaven
King Solomon, the son of David, was established in his kingdom and built the temple for God. The Book of Chronicles “portrays this as the culmination of biblical history, a recapitulation not only of the tabernacle built by Moses in the wilderness but also of creation itself. The Kingdom of Solomon is the new people of God, a liturgical empire called to bring the blessings of God to all nations through its temple and law” (S. Hahn, The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire, Baker Academic, 106).
As Solomon begins his reign, God comes to Solomon in a dream and tells him to ask something of him and he will give it to him. Instead of asking for a long life, riches, or victory over his enemies, Solomon asks for an understanding heart. Solomon knows that he is a servant of God and that he needs to be able to distinguish right from wrong in order to govern the people of God. God grants him his request and the words of the Psalmist are placed on Solomon’s lips: “The law [of the Lord] is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces”.
Solomon’s life has a sad ending. The prudence and wisdom with which he governed the people at the beginning of his reign, failed him in his personal life towards the end. He allowed his heart to be turned to false gods. The Book of Sirach praises the wisdom of Solomon’s youth, but points out the folly of his old age. The Kingdom was divided and a disobedient kingdom arose out of the North (Sirach 47:12-22). Solomon’s son Rehoboam was ample in folly and lacking in understanding and caused the people to revolt. Jeroboam, the King of the North, caused Israel to sin.
After the exile of Israel and Judah, the prophets began foresee the restoration of the Kingdom promised to David. God will raise up a new Davidic king to lead the people out of exile and restore them in a unified Kingdom (Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11; Jeremiah 23:5-7; 30:9; Ezekiel 37:22).
Jesus, the son of David (Matthew 1:1), was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the Jordan and began his public ministry proclaiming that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promises the Kingdom to the poor in spirit, to those who mourn, to the meek, to those who seek righteousness, to the merciful, to the pure, to the peacemakers and to the persecuted (Matthew 5:3-10). The greatest in the kingdom of heaven follow the law and the prophets and teach them to others.
Today, Jesus’ parables of the kingdom compare it to a hidden treasure, a merchant in search of fine pearls, and to a net thrown into the sea. The first two parables encourages us to seek the kingdom tirelessly and sell everything we own to obtain it. We hear the words Jesus said to the rich young man: “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The third parable tells us that good and evil will co-exist side by side until the end of time. There will be good wheat and bad weeds; there will be those who welcome the kingdom of heaven and those who reject it.
Saint Paul assures us today that God is watching over us during our time on this earth. God will lead us to the kingdom and brings us into the kingdom. First, Paul teaches that God knows each one of us from all eternity. His plan is to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things in earth. Second, God ordains (predestines) each one of us to eternal salvation. We have been destined in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ. His plan is that we live for the praise of God’s glory. Third, the Father calls us and chooses us in love to be his adopted children.
Fourth, the Father justifies those who respond to his call and believe in his Son. The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and communicate to us the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ and through Baptism (CCC, 1987). We die to sin by sharing in Christ’s Passion and we are born to new life through his Resurrection (CCC, 1988). The first work of grace is conversion; moved by grace, we turn toward God and away from sin. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man” (CCC, 1989) Finally, those he justifies by grace, he glorifies, for grace is the beginning of glory. In the Kingdom of heaven, we will contemplate the glory of the Trinity.
Read the source text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/sunday-homily-the-kingdom-of-heaven
Reflection 4 – How do we respond to God’s love?
The parables of Jesus were meant to catch us off guard. How is it that the kingdom of God is never quite what we make it out to be? The parables challenge us to look at life in a new way, and to probe the places in our lives where we are called to love.
Try to reflect this story. Last spring was a rainy season in much of the United States. In one area, small creeks became roaring rivers, and rivers overflowed their banks. Basements, of course, were flowing! A cross-country coach was out with his girls’ team, when two runners, who were ahead of the group, tried their usual shortcut across a normally small creek bed. They straddled a drainage pipe that crossed the creek. As the waters roared only inches away, one girl slipped and fell in. Her teammate held onto her and slipped into the waters as well. The coach, coming up the trail, saw what had happened and leapt into the waters, helping the girls stay afloat until help arrived. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The coach was put into the moment of crisis when he saw his students fighting for their lives. What would he do? That’s the question that today’s Scripture asks each of us.
God’s love is there for the taking. Paul (Rom 8:28-30) tells us that love starts with God. It is God the Father who calls us to love, who has always called us to love, who always will call us to love. It is our duty to respond to God’s love. God makes us all things work for the good, but we need to cooperate in order for love to be made manifest in our lives.
The moments of crisis in our lives – not the dramatic crises, but, rather, those everyday moments when we can either choose the good or ignore the good – are when we have the strongest chance to cooperate with God’s love. Crisis here is not life-and-death emergency; rather, it has the ancient Greek sense, a moment of choice. Our lives are full of that kind of crisis.
Faithfulness to our families is the stage of our faithfulness to God. Although many look for the dramatic opportunities to do good, in truth, we encounter hundreds of choices each day. Jesus’ parables (Mt 13:44-46) are about the mysterious presence and growth of the kingdom of heaven – guess what, it’s in your midst! How would we translate these parables in today’s world? How about the one who found a buried treasure, or the pearl of great price? Could the love of a spouse, or children, or other family or friend not be the pearl of great price? (Yes, we know that love in the home often comes at great price!). Jesus tells us these pearls are worth putting aside everything else? The field of treasures doesn’t stop at our homes. Indeed, any place where we can put the values of the kingdom of God into action is the field where the treasure lies. We read elsewhere in the Gospels about acts of charity and justice as ways that Jesus wants us to love. The parables challenge us to take another look at the everyday. The deepest treasure of love is often right under our noses! We are challenged to wake up to the treasures in our midst.
Judgment is a time for hope. The final parable in today’s Gospel (Mt 13:47-50) talks about a net thrown into the waters. All sorts of things were collected, but what was useless was discarded. Does this parable foretell our own doom? Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 encyclical, “Save in Hope,” talks about judgment for the Christian. He acknowledges some theologians’ description of judgment as Christ himself, “the fire which both burns and saves us.” It’s a heavy, even academic idea, but his point is that judgment is a moment for each of us to hope. Yes, the good is separated from the bad, as in the parable, but Christians, save in Christ, have cause to be hopeful. With that insight, we can look at all of the elements of our lives that compete for our attention. What is worth saving? Where ought we to focus our attention. Today’s gospel encourages us to look beyond the surface. Let’s look to the deeper meaning of the events, the people, and the places of our lives.
Therefore the mystery we experience in our lives, the beauty of life’s greatest treasures being close at hand, are all pointed at by the Eucharist. As we gather today, let us look beyond the Bread and the Wine and see the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives. Let us look through the immediate in our lives – with all of its troubles and concerns – and see “with the eyes of faith” the mystery of life, the hope of Jesus, all around us. Let us turn now to this mystery of life, at the Table of Our Lord (Source: Fr. Hilarion Kistner, OFM, editor, Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, July 27, 2008).
Reflection 5 -Divine wisdom, the kingdom’s greatest treasure
Purpose: The ensemble of readings today invites a homily that brings out the contrast between earthly, material riches and the only true and lasting treasure: the supernatural gift of wisdom by which we come to know and love God above all things. Jesus’ Gospel parables skillfully bring out this contrast by making worldly wealth itself—the treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great price—a symbol of that real treasure which we find only by entering God’s kingdom, by faith, and making it our priority. Jesus also likens the kingdom to a heavily-laden fishing net, from which inedible refuse will be cast away at the end of time. In doing so, he reminds us not only that we should refrain from premature judgment of other professed believers, but also that we ourselves can lose the saving gift of wisdom by foolishly letting down our guard and giving way to sin.
Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 ● Rom 8:28-30 ● Mt 13:44-52
Today’s Gospel concludes a three-week series of parables in which our Lord speaks of that mysterious reality—which in St. Matthew’s version is translated literally as “the kingdom of the heavens”—of God’s loving rule over ourselves, and the whole creation. In light of the preceding readings, a central theme in the three short parables we hear today is about that priceless treasure—indeed, it is the only true and lasting wealth there is—which we discover and receive by entering God’s kingdom. This treasure is the divinely-bestowed wisdom (the ensemble of faith, hope, and charity) by which we come to know and love God as our King, as well as to love his commands (response to today’s Psalm).
King David’s son, Solomon, living a millennium before our Lord came to proclaim God’s kingdom, was already seeking it in his own way. In the first reading, we meet Solomon as he begins his reign over the house of Israel—that ancient root from which, under the New Covenant, the universal Kingdom of God announced by Jesus, will grow, spread and, finally, triumph. When God invites the young monarch to ask confidently for whatever he most longs for, his response seems politically incorrect. Solomon is no Machiavelli. He requests none of the specific diplomatic, military, financial, or other power-clinching benefits that preoccupy most rulers. Instead, he paradoxically shows wisdom beyond his years by acknowledging his lack of wisdom for the huge task now confronting him. Since he makes the acquisition of that virtue his one great priority, the Lord blesses him in an exceptional way with “an understanding heart” and the capacity “to distinguish right from wrong.”
Of course, it is not only kings and rulers that God wants to bless. In the second reading, St. Paul assures us that for all those who make God their true priority in life, “all things work for good,” since that free decision on our part is, at the same time, made possible by a loving God’s calling, foreknowledge, and predestination. He eternally sees the end of each Christian’s vocation—which is nothing less than our conformity to the beautiful image of Christ—in its very beginning.
These first two readings, with their call to set our hearts on the spiritual treasure of God’s love, rather than the transient, but alluring, riches of this world, can help us penetrate more deeply the message of the first two Gospel parables we hear today. Jesus brings out the contrast between earthly riches, and the priceless treasure of God’s kingdom, precisely by making the first a symbol of the second. But it’s the kind of symbol which, like a signpost on the highway, points beyond itself to a greater destination: “Wouldn’t you be overjoyed to find a treasure-trove buried in a field, or the most magnificent pearl that ever came out of an oyster? Well, that’s nothing compared to the lasting joy that will be yours if, through faith, you discover Christ as God dwelling with us in human flesh, and become a citizen of his kingdom! And indeed, not just a citizen, but the adopted son or daughter of the divine King himself!”
These little parables also recall the different ways in which we can find the kingdom. For some, its discovery comes without any deliberate search, like unexpectedly unearthing that buried treasure. We’re reminded of St. Paul on the road to Damascus—thrown off his horse by a sudden and, literally, blinding encounter with the risen Christ. For others, the treasure of faith may come only after years of groping and searching for meaning in life, like the merchant who has spent years in endlessly scrutinizing pearl after pearl.
Jesus’ last parable reminds us again that, even though its final victory is assured, God’s kingdom is still in a state of war with Satan throughout this present life. The enemy’s agents, and fellow-travelers, can often infiltrate the temporary, earthly structures of the kingdom—the Church Militant—just as the big fishing net inevitably scoops up a lot of noxious creatures and trash, as well as good fish. Many sects have failed to understand this parable. They have denounced (sometimes with good reason!) the “worldliness” they see in the visible Roman Catholic Church, but have chosen the false solution of trying to set up “pure” alternate churches in which membership—or at least, first-class citizenship—will be reserved for a holy, devout élite. These folks, conscious of being “true believers”(i.e., “saved” or “born again”), distinguish themselves clearly from those they see as “unconverted non-Christians,” even though the latter may sometimes profess the faith, and attend church. Jesus warns us here that this kind of judgment is to be left up to God at the end of history. For we may err gravely, not only in judging others to be outside the kingdom, but in smugly presuming ourselves to be permanent insiders! The sad example of Solomon, who eventually lapsed from his initial zeal and wisdom into worldly sensuality and decadence, reminds us that our joy in being sons and daughters of God’s kingdom must, in this life, be accompanied by constant vigilance against the enemy’s wiles.