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17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus asks his disciples a very important question after teaching to them the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven; a question that he asks us today. He asks: “Do you understand all these things?” Do we understand what Jesus is telling us? Do we interpret things with just human understanding or are we thinking like God? Understanding is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have to realize our need for this gift and ask for it. Understanding is what makes us different from others in the world. It is what makes us Christian, true disciples of Christ. Have you ever asked for the spirit of Understanding? That is what Jesus is challenging his disciples to do with his parables.

He knows as humans we have desires. I mean, imagine if you really did find a hidden treasure chest in Cedartown in a hay field somewhere. This chest had millions of dollars worth of gold in it and the land was for sale for a few thousand dollars. Wouldn’t you sale what you had and buy the field? Of course, you would! Why? Because with all that money we could buy a new home and new cars, pay for all of our debts, eat good food, travel around the world and so much more! But the challenge is to understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is like that hidden treasure. And it is worth more than billions of dollars worth of gold! Do we understand that? What would you sacrifice to get this heavenly wealth? Would it be worth it to you? Would you sacrifice one hour a week to go to Mass on Sunday? Would you seek to get married in the Church with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony? Would you give up a life of sin? Would you go to confession? So many people sacrifice things to find treasure in this life: they sacrifice time, money, resources to find pleasure, treasure, or excitement. They even sacrifice their dignity and purity to find happiness. What Jesus is offering us is something much greater than anything that we can get in the world. He is offering us eternal life and happiness. “Do you understand all these things?”

Even if we could get anything in the world, if we did not have the spirit of understanding we would have nothing because we would not use them in accord with God’s plan and design. We would not understand what life is all about. So many people live this way. They think if I had a lot of money, or a lot of beauty, or a lot of material things, I will be happy. But this is just human understanding. This is the way people think if all they want is life on earth.

Imagine if God came to you and said: “Ask something of me and I’ll give it to you.” What would you ask for? Would you ask for a lot of money, or for perfect health, for the most handsome guy or prettiest girl? I think we all can imagine what our answer would be. Jesus knows our way of thinking. In the first reading, God said to King Solomon, “Asks something of me and I will give it to you.” Of all the things he could think to ask for, Solomon asked for an understand heart. He wanted to understand the thinking of God. He wanted to know good from evil. Do you understand the thinking of God? Are you able to discern good from evil? Do you understand how much God loves you and wants to share with you his mind and heart? If you did, you would sacrifice anything in this life for his love which is perfect and everlasting.

Yesterday I was in Pittsburgh for the wedding of my cousin, Daniel. His wife is Christina. It was a beautiful ceremony. They got married in the Cathedral and the bishop celebrated the Mass. There were about 15 priests concelebrating. My cousin Daniel sacrificed everything for his bride because she was worth it. He did not sleep with her or live with her before marriage to make sure she was the right one. He knew this was wrong. He instead gave up all other options and committed himself to her fully. In the Gospel Jesus tells the parable of the merchant who was searching for fine pearls and when he found one of great price he sacrifices everything to buy that one pearl. It is like what a man does we he truly finds a good woman. He stops searching for another. He doesn’t use her love until he can find another. He doesn’t keep searching for something more or stay open to another relationship. He instead shows that he truly loves her and asks her for marriage. Couples that marry in the Church are a sign to others that they are living not just for this world but for the Kingdom of Heaven. Is your relationship like this? Are you living for the kingdom of heaven or are you still looking for other pearls? Do you understand the difference?

Jesus wants us to understand that there are eternal consequences to our choices here on earth. For the good we do and for the evil. He makes it clear that at the end, the angels will come and separate the good from the bad and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. So today let us ask for the renewal of the gift of understanding so that we can be reminded of the great treasure Jesus offers us, eternal life in Heaven. And let us not be afraid to sacrifice anything on earth to gain it. Amen.

Father Timothy Gallagher

7-26-14

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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