17th SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – A
RECORDED AT THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC RADIO ONLINE (pls click to listen):
If by chance, we become a master of a genie who can make our three wishes come true, what would our wishes be?
In the first reading, when Solomon was asked by God what he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. Because of that he became the wisest king ever. If God asks us right here and now what we want, what would it be? Long life, good health, happy family, solution to a particular problem… What do we have in our bucket list?
In our gospel this Sunday the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. In these twin parables, the realities are 1) they are hidden 2) they are found 3) there is a great joy in finding them 4) the finder sells everything 5) the finder buys them.
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality hence it is hidden. Since it is not composed of matter and form, it is not perceived by our senses. Because the world canonizes materialism and consumerism, it appeals least among those whose lives are anchored in the existential and material. It takes faith to see something beyond the perceptible and at the same time seeks to understand what it believes. An atheist denies God maybe because he cannot be convinced nor prove the existence of God. For us believers, we do not need to be convinced and we do not need proofs, we just simply believe.
We found this treasure when we were baptized and it is kept hidden in our hearts. It is nurtured in our homes, by the Christian community we belong, in our parish, with our peers. When we celebrate our faith together with our fellow Christians through the sacraments, the hidden treasure is made manifest. In those celebrations, our faith grows and as we share our treasure with the rest of the community, we become richer as a person. We possess something that is very rare and precious.
Because of his faith, a Christian is a joyful person. We do not deny that we have our pains and sufferings but in the midst of these, we always find reasons to rejoice. We find solace and comfort knowing that the God we believe in does not and will not abandon us even if he seems silent and absent.
Sometimes our faith demands that we need to do something that may entail sacrifice. For an unbeliever looking from the outside, we can be foolish and out of our mind. For those of us who have been in love, for others we may be irrational? But who cares? We did not mind because we were in love. To possess a higher good, we need to give up something, we have to die to ourselves, we have to say goodbyes. We need to bear the pain to pay the price of the treasure we love most. If we do this in our secular lives, how much more if we want to possess the Kingdom?
It may sound that the parables suit more those religious persons who have radically followed Jesus in faraway missions, convents, monasteries, etc. True enough our Church boasts of innumerable saints and unsung heroes who have left families, homelands, careers and everything when they fell in love and followed Jesus. These parables are also for the simple people only known to God who in their everyday lives continue to discover the Kingdom. Whenever we possess this treasure, we are the richest person in the whole world.