Seventeenth Sunday of the Year
1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12, Psalm 119, Rom 8:28-30, Mt 13:44-52
Jesus teaches us with parables, a medium that allows us to discover in hIs use of familiar or common things a deeper truth. Today the kingdom of heaven is like — takes us on a path to understanding. It’s not the field or pearl we focus on but how much they are valued and the behavior or the ordering of our behavior that this inspires. Understanding what matters makes us reorder our priorities.
The Rule of Saint Benedict is very clear about this and in monastic living we embrace certain practices that give body or substance to the vows we profess and speak of the value we place on our relationship with God, a relationship continuing through eternity.
Solomon asked for an understanding heart, not material things or status. God responds with allowing him what we hope to come to in our lives.
As we heard from Origen this morning commenting on the gospel — ‘Thus everyone beginning to live a spiritual life and growing toward maturity needs tutors, guardians, and trustees until the fullness of time arrives for him, so that after all this, he who at first was no different from a slave although he owned the whole estate, may on his emancipation receive his patrimony from his tutors, guardians, and trustees. This patrimony is the pearl of great price, and the coming of what is perfect to supersede what is imperfect, when, after acquiring the forms of knowledge, if we may call them so, which are inferior to knowledge of Christ, one becomes able to understand the supreme value of knowing Christ. The law and the prophets fully comprehended are the preparation for the full comprehension of the gospel and the complete understanding of the acts and words of Christ Jesus.’
Paul reminds the Romans — all things work for good for those who love God — not just convenient or comfortable things. Receiving these scriptures, we pause to ask ourselves what we are seeking and if we say the kingdom of God, what in our choices reflects that this is so? Going further, we ask — are we simply satisfied with momentary pleasures or as monastic living dares us to believe, are we on the path to being filled with joy for having sold everything to have that field, that pearl our experiences teach us is of incomparable value?
Collecting data or information is not the acquiring of wisdom that brings the understanding being referred to in our readings today. The information age, with all its technology, doesn’t automatically bring understanding or wisdom. So when Jesus asks, “Do you understand?” we rightfully pause and consider whether our living brings us insight into the deeper truths God is inviting us to comprehend. A net pulls in fish of many kinds, the gospel tells us, however they are not all kept. A head of a household brings from the storeroom old and new, Jesus tells us, and the deeper meaning of the gospel takes us further in giving consideration to how important it is to discern with an understanding mind and heart that which is worth building one’s life around.
May the Lord guide us and bring us to have understanding as we continue making our way on the path of faith.