The Catholic Parish of the Sacred Heart, Tunstall
17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR 2 I Kings 3: 5, 7-12; Psalm 118; Romans 8: 28-30; Matthew 13: 44-52 SELLING OFF EVERYTHING YOU OWN FOR THE KINGDOM Today we read the last three of the seven parables of the Kingdom of heaven (of God) in the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel according to St Matthew. The first two are of special attention as they deal on the theme of selling off everything we own (or at least all those which we need to give up) to possess the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of God is the supreme value. It is to be desired more than anything else. It is to be sought, gained, and held on to at any cost. It is the number one concern in our lives. This is what Scripture clearly tells us today. In as much as I feel so excited about this kingdom which is the greatest treasure worth possessing, the thought of selling off everything one owns in order to possess it is frightening. There are many things we hold so dearly on to that we are not ready to part with them for any other thing. In fact, they have become little ‘gods’ in our lives that we think without them life is no longer worth living. But how far can these little ‘gods’ take us in life? Are they not part of those ‘vanity of vanities’ that do not add value to our lives? However, is the kingdom of God really the most important thing in our lives for which we would give up everything else? The all-important answer to this all-important question lies in our understanding of the kingdom of God. What does it mean? The “kingdom of God” is not merely a kingdom someplace out there or up there, and sometime in the future after this life, something we can’t see and touch and experience, something that we can’t even imagine. It is rather, some concrete reality here and now, something that we experience in our daily lives, something that will continue tomorrow, till eternity. It is that kingdom that John the Baptist prophesied when he preached ‘repentance for the kingdom of God which is close at hand’, it is the same kingdom the apostles announced its proximity to all would-be believers. That Kingdom is Jesus himself; it is goodness, holiness, justice, peace and above all, love. In Jesus the Kingdom of God comes to life. The two characters in the shorter form of the Gospel of today were motivated to re-order their priorities in order to get this treasure of great value. They were filled with joy at the discovery of this treasure that they did not count the cost of getting it. King Solomon longed for it that is why he preferred wisdom to riches and longevity. Based on this we can say that: The kingdom of God is like a man who marries a wife of his dream. He forgets himself entirely, and lives only for her good and happiness. And through them love and happiness grows in their neighbourhood. The kingdom of God is like parents who have a family. They take their duty to feed, raise, and educate their family absolutely seriously, without reservation, as their ultimate concern, and at any sacrifice. Through such family a great leader or a priest / a religious, who offers his or her life for humanity emerges. The kingdom of God is like a student for whom studies are the most important reality. She does well and brings honour to the school and joy to her family. The kingdom of God is like a person who so loves justice that that person accepts imprisonment and even death on its behalf. In other words, the kingdom of God is in every good, loving, human reality and relationship to which one commits oneself completely, to which one dedicates oneself with absolute fidelity - whether that be another human being whom one loves, one’s marriage, one’s family, one’s work or profession, or a good cause that one pursues as a life’s purpose. There is the kingdom of God, right in that concrete, good, loving, reality; because God is goodness and love itself, and therefore God is there, in the very depths of every good and loving thing. And now I ask the question, Do you love the kingdom of God more than anything else? And the simple, truthful answer is unequivocal “yes”. We are ready to allow it flourish in our lives and in our midst at whatever cost. May Your Kingdom come, O Lord! Happy Sunday to you all! Monday 16th Week Year 2, July 20th 2020 Micah 6:1-4, 6-8; Psalm 49; Matthew 12: 38-42 THE SIGN OF JONAH The scribes and Pharisees wanted a sign from Jesus before they could believe in him. Though he was capable of performing miracles to prove his authenticity, Jesus refuses to be led by their obstinacy. Gideon in the Book of Judges was specially chosen by God to be his messenger. However, He wanted a sign from God to make sure he was really chosen. He was very pragmatic. He puts wool outside and says to God, “Cover it with dew by morning, but keep the ground around it bone dry.” Next morning the wool is wet and the ground around it bone dry, but Gideon is still sceptical. He asks God for another sign. It was hard for the Scribes and Pharisees to come to faith in Jesus, without a sign. But Jesus says that the only sign they needed was the sign of Jonah. It is a sign of courageous faith that does not demand miracles, a sign of truth that douses falsehood, a power of the word that transforms life and erases all doubt. Jonah’s preaching to the Ninevites was very simple and direct, yet it accomplished the total repentance of the Ninevites. When you approach the word with an open mind and heart it transforms you. Signs are not always needed for faith to mature. There are times when we need signs but often the one thing we need is trust. For example, a parent knows that there comes a time when she must “let go” the child’s hand in order for the child to walk. If not, the child may never walk. The same is true in our trust in God. There comes a time when we must simply trust. Let us ask God to bless us with a loving, trusting heart. St Apollinaris, Pray for us
Friday 15th Week Year 2, July 17th 2020 Isaiah 38: 1-6, 21-22. 7-8; Isaiah 38; Matthew 12: 1-8 Imagine you gave a birthday party for your little daughter and as she unwrapped the gifts given to her, she keeps the wrapper but throws the gift into the rubbish bin. How would you feel about it? This is precisely what the Pharisees are doing in our Gospel reading of today. They placed the cart before the horse. For them, religion should be about keeping laws rather than showing mercy and love. They were not moved by mercy and love towards the disciples who were picking ears of corn and eating to alleviate hunger, rather they were concerned with breaking Sabbath laws. Jesus says, “What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.” Religion is something beautiful, but the offending Pharisees were turning it into something ugly. They were turning religion into something God never intended it to be. They were throwing away God’s gift and keeping the paper it was wrapped in. Jesus goes on to say, ‘Something greater than the Temple is here’ and that ‘the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath. Jesus is the center of our religion and spirituality, full of love and compassion. To have him is to possess the greatest treasure ever. In every situation we should be aware that ‘Something greater than the Temple is here.’ Let us pray: Lord, help us realise that religion is not a list of things to do, but a person to be followed. It’s not a puzzle to be solved, but a life to be lived. Saints Kenelm, John Sugar and Robert Grissold, Pray for us.