July 24, 2011, is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Pope Benedict XVI is on vacation this week … and so will we be soon. April is a big list maker, and we have a permanent list to follow when we need to pack for our vacations, including how to include God in our trip:
1. Apologetics CDs. We always bring along books on tape to listen to and learn from in the mornings. This year we are also bringing along Scott Hahn’s Can You Trust the Bible?
2. Rosaries (and Rosary CD). We don’t want to miss our daily Rosary just because we are on the road. The kids like to use a Rosary CD in the car, but, to keep their attention, Dad mutes half of the prayer to remind them to join in and not just listen.
3. Pilgrimage Destination. Ever since we got the idea from a Faith & Family magazine writer, we include a significant pilgrimage destination in addition to the fun destinations on our family vacations. When we go to California, we incorporate visits to the missions. This year, we are headed to the East Coast, so we plan to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Mass.
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-130; Romans 8:28-30, Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46
July is “Kingdom of God” month in the liturgy. Next, we will see readings in which Jesus shows his extraordinary status by three unique miracles.
But this week, the message is: Stake everything on the Kingdom.
Americans instinctively understand this.
Lorenzo Patelli is a world-renowned accounting professor who has taught at Benedictine College for the past six years. A comment he gave to our alumni magazine struck me: “What I love about Benedictine is the passion of the lay adult people who work here. People who could work in other environments and make more money — instead, they bet everything on their faith and try to contribute. That doesn’t exist in Europe at all. It’s completely gone.”
Perhaps it takes an accountant to see the true beauty of that trade off, in which God is an asset that balances any expense.
Today’s first reading from the Book of Kings explains this lesson through the story of Solomon. God tells him: “Ask something of me, and I will give it to you.”
Solomon’s answer: “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
He could have had anything — but he chose not just God, but the ability to know God’s will. The Psalm reiterates the power of his choice: “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
The Gospel drives home the point with three images of people who “bet everything on their faith” and divest themselves of material attachments to gain a greater reward.
A man sells everything he has to buy a field knowing that the treasure there is greater than what he owns; a jeweler forsakes all his jewels for a single pearl. In both cases, these people have to give up their livelihoods for the sake of the Gospel — and then the Gospel becomes their livelihood. The treasure and the pearl will only sustain them if they barter with it; the Gospel will only sustain them if they give it away.
In the third image of the Kingdom, Jesus shows just how wise the calculation “God is worth everything I own” is. As it turns out, the Kingdom of God isn’t just worth more than the riches of the earth — the riches of the earth are worth nothing at all in the end, and the Kingdom of God is worth everything.
At the end of the age, says Jesus: “The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.”
We are made for God, and our earthly lives should reflect that truth.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas.