Monday, July 25, 2011

17th Sunday - homily

"Ask something of me and I will give it to you". What a statement the Lord gives to Solomon in our first reading! Imagine hearing this from can ask Him for anything and He will give it to you! This reminds me of when I first entered the seminary. I went in right out of college and working in a bar. There I was with 150 holy men and kind of freaking out. So, I spent the first few nights in the chapel basically asking the Lord, 'what the heck am I doing here?' One of the first nights I was alone with the Lord when someone else came in to pray. The guy kneels right behind me and starts whispering to God, but loud enough for me to hear, "Dear God, please give me...A MILLION DOLLARS". I turned around to see the guy laughing. I found out later he was one of the comedians of the house. We became good friends from that hilarious moment on.

If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be? You have the same opportunity as Solomon, you really do. Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospel, "ask and you shall receive". Now, if you're thinking of asking for a million dollars like the seminarian jokester did, you might want to think again. Almighty God has infinite riches which are far more valuable than a million dollars or a new car or anything material. Solomon recognizes this and asks for something far greater than material goods: an understanding heart. He seems to amaze God with his wisdom. So, how do we show the wisdom of Solomon this week in asking God for something? And, I do want you to ask God for something this week.

This goes back to last week's second reading from Romans 8 that the Spirit helps us to pray as we should. Today, the Spirit gives us this Gospel passage that reveals what we should ask God for: the joy of the kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of Heaven might not seem like the sexiest choice for us in a material world centered on instant gratification. But, if we look at what the Lord is saying in today's parable, we see that the value of the kingdom is worth more than all the riches of the world combined.

He says the kingdom is like a treasure. This gets our attention because we know that a treasure has tremendous value. It's like a treasure buried in a field; it was an ancient practice to bury valuable items to keep them safe from intruders. It's so valuable that a person would sell everything he had to purchase the field where the treasure is buried. And, the kicker is that the person does this OUT OF JOY. This treasure is so much more valuable than all else in his life that he HAPPILY gives up everything for it. He has found his happiness! He gets rid if everything that he has – all the things that he thought would bring him happiness – in order to purchase the one thing that will bring him happiness. What a treasure!

Married persons do this when they give their lives to the other in Holy Matrimony. They have found their treasures and sell everything to be with them. Priests and religious have done this with their spouse and treasure, the Church. Soldiers have found a treasure in their fellow countrymen and give up everything for them. Policemen and women and firefighters, too, are willing to give up everything for their treasure, their fellow citizens. These are all examples and representations of the treasure of the kingdom of Heaven.

Brothers and sisters, ask God this week for joy...the joy of finding the treasure of the kingdom of Heaven. When we find this treasure, we experience the joy of the person in the parable. When we find Christ - and Christ is the kingdom of Heaven on earth -, OUT OF JOY we sell everything to purchase a life with Him. Christ is our treasure! Christ is our joy! When we live in Christ, we are the richest and happiest people on earth.

I went to the funeral last week of a woman who died suddenly. It was déjà vu in many ways with the funeral of her brother eleven years ago. Her daughter spoke about how her family was the richest family on earth because of three things: 1) their faith, 2) their family, and 3) their friends. These things are among the many riches of the kingdom of Heaven. This twenty-one year old young woman gets it that her large family has a tremendous treasure even though they have experience tragedy twice in the past eleven years.

Finally, the Eucharist is the visible form of the kingdom of Heaven. It is the greatest treasure on earth! It is the 'pearl of great price'. It is also the reminder that Christ sold everything for us; we are His treasure...we are his joy. We are worth it to Him. We are worth more than anything in the world to Him. And, He is worth more than anything in the world to us. May each one of us show the wisdom of Solomon in asking God for true riches this week. May each one of us ask Him for joy...the joy of finding the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus Christ, the greatest treasure in the world.

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