17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130 (97a)
July 26, 2020
God said to Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
If God said this to you, how would you respond? What is your first thought?…maybe an end to the Coronavirus? Or would you ask for “riches” or a “long life”?
Now, think about it a little deeper. Think of it as a once in a lifetime offer.
Solomon asks for “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
God is pleased with what Solomon asks for. God is pleased that Solomon did not ask for “a long life…nor for riches…nor for the life” of his enemies. Solomon saw past earthly treasures to see what is most important.
Solomon asked for “an understanding heart.” Our psalmist, praising God, says, “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” God’s Law is his “delight.” The psalmist loves God’s commands because they are good. God’s Law is not a burden. Following God’s Law leads us to be good people and leads us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Without God, nothing is holy.
With this in mind, we hear Jesus say, “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 buys that field.” Heaven is so great a treasure that we should be willing to give up everything for it. It is that “pearl of great price.” After all, Jesus gave his life for us.
God offers this treasure to everyone. As Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea which collects fish of every kind.” Heaven is open to all who live righteously, following God’s Commands.
In God’s eyes, race does not matter. Ethnicity does not matter. Our physical abilities do not matter. The language we speak and our country of origin does not matter. The only thing that is displeasing to God is sin. Even then, God forgives those with a repentant heart.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, we will be with God. That is the greatest treasure that is. We get a taste of it in this world when we strive to live God’s commands.
We open ourselves to this treasure in receiving the Sacraments, beginning with Baptism, and then Confirmation. We only receive these two Sacraments once in a lifetime. We can receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as we sin and repent. Hopefully, that is not often.
There is something we can do weekly, even daily, that is a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Mass.
Remember how the psalmist said God’s commands are “more precious” than gold and silver. The first half of Mass centers on God’s Word, including his commandments. The Liturgy of the Word speaks of God’s love for his people. It speaks of God’s forgiveness for his people.
The second half of Mass is the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood of Christ. This is food for our soul. What more could we ask for in this world?
The Mass offers us treasure.
Do we “see” the treasure that Mass offers us? Do we “appreciate” it, or do we take it for granted?
We are Catholic. We have a set ritual for how we say Mass. We know when to make the Sign of the Cross, but do we know why we do it? We know there are readings from the Bible at Mass but do we know how they are selected? Do we know what the prayers are saying? Do we know why we bow and genuflect?
Do you know any of these answers or do you just do it because it was what you taught?
Uncovering the answers to these questions can help us appreciate the treasures of the Mass. With that in mind, this Fall, I will offer a series of presentations on the Mass to help us know not just what we do at Mass but why. This is to uncover the treasure of the Mass. You will find more information in this week’s bulletin on page two. What you won’t find is the place. We don’t know what Coronavirus precautions will be in place then. Maybe it will be an in-person presentation. Otherwise, it will be an online webinar. Only God knows right now.
For now, we continue our celebration of Mass as a treasure.