17th Sunday of Year A
Theme of the week: Do not be afraid to make sacrifice for the Kingdom of God. For when our motivation is the love of God, all things will work unto good.
The First Reading tells of the story of King Solomon, on being granted anything he wish by God, Solomon asked for wisdom. To Solomon, God’s wisdom is so precious that he would give up all other things he could have asked for. At this point, Let us recall the story of Creation. Since our first parents walked on earth, humankind has yearned for the ability to be the perfect judge between good and evil. It was this yearning that led to the first sin in Gen 3. While Solomon did not achieve wisdom of this magnitude (God alone is the perfect judge), he came closer than any human ever did (verse 12). Ponder for a moment, given the same choice as Solomon, would you have asked for something more earthly (riches, power, fame, physical health, peace on earth); or would you ask for something more heavenly (like wisdom) as Solomon did?
The Gospel extends the notion of God’s gift beyond wisdom, to that ultimate gift of the Kingdom of God. This is aptly illustrated by the two parables this week – the person who sells all his belongings to buy a field with hidden treasure; and the merchant who sells everything so that he can buy the perfect pearl. To someone unaware or unappreciative of the value of the treasure or the pearl, such action would seem crazy. But to an informed person, such an action is perfectly logical. The challenge Solomon’s story and these parables pose to us is: how precious do we deem the Kingdom of God? For its sake, are we prepared to do something the world will deem as crazy, i.e. giving up wealth, fame, fortune, and perhaps even our lives? On the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the third Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary, Pope St John Paul II said,
“Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. Jn 20:22-23).”
Having reflected on the above Scripture passages, the Second Reading puts everything in perspective for us. Verse 28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love God”. So, my brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to make sacrifices the world would deem illogical. For when our motivation is the love of God, all things will work out well.
The passage then invites us to once again cast our mind back to the Creation story. In the beginning, we were created to be perfect, in the image of God (Gen 1:27). By our disobedience, we disowned our inheritance to eternal life. By His life, Christ proclaimed the Kingdom of God to us; by His death, Christ regained for us our inheritance to eternal life. The Second Reading recalls Gen 1:27 by claiming us as the image of the Son; for it is through Christ’s Passion that we reclaim the Kingdom of God to be our predestined inheritance.