Sunday Reflection: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
Two Sundays ago we heard the parable of the sower and we saw that God sows his Word for all persons to receive; he does not choose only the good soil, but makes his Word available to all kinds of hearts to receive. He does not discriminate between persons, but gives each one a chance to receive his Word. Last Sunday in the parable of the mustard seed, we saw the physical growth of the Church from a small community in Jerusalem into a world religion that it is today. In the parable of the yeast, we saw the spiritual nature of the Church as the work of the Holy Spirit who by his gifts and graces transforms our persons interiorly into the image and likeness of Jesus, and through persons, transforms communities and societies, until there exists a Christian civilization. In the parable of the weeds and the wheat, we saw the Church as a society where saints and sinners co-exist and that at the end of time there will be a judgment, a harvesting done by the angels of God and the burning of the weeds in the furnace, while the wheat are gathered into the barns of God. Today’s Gospel also ends with the gathering of all kinds of fish from the sea; the bad are thrown away, while the good are gathered into buckets; and the warning of last Sunday is repeated: “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.” Hell is now clear.
Today, we are shown the kingdom of heaven as another choice. It is a treasure in a field and a pearl of great price; that is how precious heaven is, Jesus tells us. But first, is hell and heaven real for me? Jesus presents them clearly in the Gospels, but do I accept his word for it? Many choose to be atheists and agnostics. Am I one of them? Many say they are too clever to accept old women’s tales. Many “scientists” and “intellectuals” do not accept God nor the teachings of the Bible and of the Church. The values of God and of Jesus they do not appreciate. What do I hold as truth? Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life?” Do I accept that? Is heaven my treasure and my pearl of great price? Am I ready to sell all that I possess to buy the field and obtain the treasure? Am I ready to give up all else to be able to buy that pearl of great price? Is heaven that valuable for me? Many have given their time, talent and treasure to serve the Lord; am I ready to do the same? This is the challenge for each one of us today.
The parables illustrate different aspects of the Kingdom of God on earth –the Church- and in heaven. Meditating on them helps us to see different perspectives of the Kingdom and enriches our knowledge of what God has prepared for us, his children.