17th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Cycle A—2017

FIRST READING            1 Kings 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.  God said, Ask something of me and I will give it to you.  Solomon answered:  O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.  I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.  Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.  For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?  The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.  So God said to him:  Because you have asked for this-not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right-I do as you requested.  I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.

SECOND READING                  Romans 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters:  We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

GOSPEL                Matthew 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:  The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets.  What is bad they throw away.  Thus it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  Do you understand all these things?  They answered, Yes.  And he replied, then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Kingdom of Heaven!  Today the Gospel of Matthew gives us a small understanding about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Most of us today don’t think in terms of kingdoms, but we could rephrase the Kingdom of Heaven as all who belong the Lord.  It is we who form one people, one grouping, one body in Christ.  Individualism has dominated so much of our thinking, yet our Scriptures are clear:  we go to the Father as a people, as a community of people, not just as individuals.

Our first reading today is from the First Book of Kings.  In this passage, King Solomon asks for wisdom in order to be able to guide the people of his kingdom.  The surprise is that King Solomon does not ask for strength, nor for riches, nor for a good life for himself, nor for triumph over his enemies.  Instead, King Solomon seeks wisdom to serve the people.

What do we seek in life?  What do I seek in life personally?  These are natural questions after hearing about King Solomon.  What do I want in life:  Money?  Power?  Control over others?  Relationships?  Triumph over my enemies?

Instead, the Kingdom of God is like a wonderful gift of love for all others and should overcome in us all the desire to have things just for myself or for my loved ones.  Rather, the Kingdom of Heaven pushes me to want to good of the other person and the good of all.

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans.  In this letter, we discover that “all things work for good for those who love God.”  When we begin to live in God, our way of seeing the world and what happens to us and to others in a new way.  Always we trust that what happens is in the hands of God.  We don’t understand His ways but we understand that He loves us.  God wants to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  God will conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is God’s work.  Our work is simply to accept God’s work within us and to allow God to work within us.

This brings us back to the Gospel today, from Saint Matthew.  God brings about His Kingdom and God will take out of His Kingdom all that does not belong to His Kingdom.  You and I must be purified of all that is in us and which is against the Kingdom.  We should not fear this purification.  Rather we should recognize that purification is necessary so that we can be with God completely and always.  Let us pray for the purification!  Once we see the immense value and joy of the Kingdom, it is all we shall want.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip