Reflection for Sunday – July 30, 2023
Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
Preacher: Irene Goodwin
When some of us were young our religious training mainly consisted of memorizing answers to questions. One of the questions asked was: “Where is God?” Our answer was, “God is everywhere.” To a young seven-year-old this was quite an intimidating image. A God-like figure hovering about watching all we did.
As we got older, we began to understand it in new ways. We learned that the Reign of God was here, but not yet. Today theologians with a science background are even beginning to help us understand in new ways this idea of God everywhere. Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin tells us that, “nothing is profane for those who know how to see…There is no natural world where God is not.”
Do we know how to see? In today’s Gospel we read that Jesus told the disciples what the Reign of Heaven is like. Jesus uses parables which can have several meanings and sometimes they leave us confused. We read that recognizing the Reign can be quite a surprise. It is like a treasure that could be lost or forgotten, only to be dug up by some unexpected person. However, we may wonder if it is ethical to avoid telling the owner of the land that treasure was found on their property.
The second parable today is about a merchant who seeks the treasure. There is also a negative aspect of this parable. Merchants do not have a good reputation in the Bible. They generally are greedy and cheat the lower classes. Along with these two parables on the Reign, Jesus again warns disciples they are not to be the judge of what is good or bad. Then and only then he asks them if they understand.
We ask ourselves if we understand, do we see? Do we seek the Reign in our lives? Solomon prays for one thing, wisdom. With wisdom Solomon is given it all. If a genie appeared and offered us one wish, would it be for wisdom? One of the few homilies I remember from long ago was from a time when we lived in Honolulu. During the homily the priest mentioned that he had always hoped and wished to be able to live in Hawaii, have a red sports car and a color TV (This was 1970). He continued, “I now have all those things and they have not brought happiness. If I were wise, I would have prayed for wisdom.”
Perhaps Jesus’ parables remind us that the Reign is in our midst but we can ignore it, recognize it or make it shine. Sometimes the Reign of God pops up and surprises us. How often have we heard the story of a life changing event that brings someone back to a faith life?
Sometimes we have to work through prayer, study or good works to notice it. In the busyness of life, it is easy not to recognize the Reign of God. We may even take paths that take us far from the Reign by choices we make. Jesus may be telling us our actions can help others be aware of the Reign in our midst. This takes some sacrifice. As the parable says the Reign is a treasure worth selling all we have to possess it and this treasure is for everyone.
Perhaps we help to make the Reign of God present by naming events that helped us experience God. It may be the beauty we see in nature or the goodness in the lives of people around us.
Here are two small examples of young people making the Reign of God present to me. Some years ago, a young couple from a local college came to our church and asked to be married. As with many young couples, I did not expect to see much of them. Was I wrong. They came every week and when the baptized Catholic was away on an internship the unbaptized man still continued to join us. Another day, a couple appeared at the church. They were on their way to a Justice of the Peace to be married and wondered if they could have their rings blessed. For some reason they were not being married at church; however, they saw the need for a blessing. These two couples surprised me. It felt like they did understand and were aware of the need for God in their lives.
The Reign is available to us. We work, we pray and take time to see and understand. Then we share it with those around us.