The Kingdom of Heaven: Eagerness for the Things of God

User’s Guide to Sunday, July 30

May we strive for the lasting treasure of the Kingdom ... to better love the way God loves.
May we strive for the lasting treasure of the Kingdom ... to better love the way God loves. (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, July 30, is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or Matthew 13:44-46.

The Gospel today asks a fundamental question: “What is it that you value most?” We should desire God and the things awaiting us in heaven more so than any earthly thing. Let’s take a look at this Gospel in three stages.

The Gospel uses the image of buried treasure and a pearl to illustrate the gift of the Kingdom of heaven, which Jesus is discussing in today’s Gospel.

We tend to think of treasure as a bunch of “stuff,” but the image of treasure that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel is more of a symbol for the heart and for our deepest desires. One of the most fundamental prophetic texts of the Old Testament announces what Jesus has fulfilled: “Oh, my people … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; and I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

To have a new heart is to experience our desires changing. We become less focused on passing, worldly things and more interested in the lasting treasure of the Kingdom. We begin to love holiness, justice, chastity, goodness, righteousness and truth more. We begin to better love our spouse, family, the poor, and even our enemies the way God loves them. Yes, the buried, hidden treasure of the Kingdom of God is a new heart.

A pearl in the Scriptures is an image for wisdom, which confers a new mind: A new mind begins to think more and more as God does, sharing his priorities and vision, one that sees as he does: We reject worldly thinking, priorities and agendas; we come to rejoice in God’s truth and to grasp more deeply its beauty and sensibility. What a precious gift the new mind is, thinking with God and having the mind of Christ!

What are these offerings of the Kingdom worth, and what do they cost? Everything! Notice that these men were eager to go and sell, to forsake everything else, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. They paid the price with eagerness because they were so enamored of the glory they had found. May we ask the Lord for a willing and eager heart for the Kingdom of God, so eager that we are willing to forsake anything and everything for it.

The final image is of our upcoming judgment. Here, the Lord speaks of a net that captures everything (referring to our summons to judgment). Those who want the Kingdom and have accepted its value and price will be gathered in; those who do not want the Kingdom of God and do not accept its value will be cast aside.

The Kingdom of God includes things like forgiveness, mercy, justice, chastity, love of the poor, love of one’s enemies, and the celebration of what is good, true and beautiful.

The Kingdom of God has God, not man, at its center. Yet many neither want nor value some or even most of these things. When the net is drawn in, our decision is made final. Thus, we ought to be earnest in seeking a heart from the Lord that eagerly desires the Kingdom and appreciates its worth above all people and all things.

Pray for this new heart and mind that values the Kingdom of Heaven above all else.