Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Jul 31, 2023 | Reflections

The Gospel today teaches that those who are wise will seek spiritual gifts and set their hearts on the Kingdom of Heaven, which is true treasure beyond our wildest imagining! 

King Solomon was the wisest of Israel’s Kings and almost all the Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament is attributed to him.  His father, King David, had established a united and prosperous kingdom. His was a hard act to follow for the young King Solomon. But God appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for what he wished. Solomon asked for a wise and understanding heart,  in order to govern well. This pleased God, that he didn’t ask for something material such as wealth or a long life, or the lives of his enemies, but  rather he humbly asked for the spiritual gift of wisdom in order to govern well the people of Israel. God gave this gift in abundance to Solomon, more than all before or after him. So, he became renowned for his wisdom. For example,  the Queen of Sheba.  in South-West Arabia came from very far away, just to hear the wisdom of Solomon and was amazed at what she saw and heard!

Three Parables teaching the Wisdom of Seeking

In the second reading, St Paul teaches that everything works for the good of those who love God. So even what seems like disasters, have a silver lining for those who love God. For God knows how to bring good out of bad.

The Gospel contains three parables and teaches the wisdom of seeking that which lasts.

In the first parable hidden treasure is found unexpectedly and once one realizes the value of this treasure, they give up everything in order to possess it. Many have had dramatic conversions and turned their back on worldly pursuits in order to serve God. One of these was Actress Dolores Hart, who was once hailed as the next Grace Kelly;  she gave Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss and worked alongside leading men like Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn and Marlon Brando — just to name a few. But in 1962 she left Hollywood behind and became a Nun. There are many others who changed course completely once they realized exactly what God is really offering.

The second parable talks of a merchant who discovers a ‘pearl of grace price’. He gives up everything, in order to possess this pearl. This could be someone who found their way into the Catholic Church are a lengthy search for truth. One example would be Scott Hahn.  As a young man, Hahn was a Calvinist and was convinced that the Catholic Church was in error and boasted of having converted some Catholics into embracing a purer Christianity. His conversion began when he and his wife became convinced that contraception was contrary to God’s law. He then started reading the early Church Fathers and became totally convinced that there is only one True Church:  The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  He is now a great apologist for the Catholic Faith, having found the ‘pearl of great price’ with all the Sacraments including Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist, the pledge of eternal life and the means to obtain Heaven.

The third parable teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven will come one day fully for everyone. In the Church and world there are good and bad people who co-exist and just as fishermen separate good fish from bad fish in a dragnet, so God will send His Angels to separate the unrepentant sinners from the just and those remain unrepentant will be thrown into the blazing furnace where

‘there will be weeping and grinding of teeth’.

This describes Hell and the unbearable pain of separation from God for all eternity. These people squandered their life on earth, which should have been a time of preparation for eternity. However, while there is life, there is hope and we need to all pray for the conversion of sinners.

This reminds me of the story of Bob, who is a man in his fifties. He had been a successful businessman, but about a year ago, Bob left the business world and started working fulltime for an organization that runs activities for lay Catholics. This meant a big pay cut, but Bod found that serving Christ was far more rewarding, so it didn’t matter. One sad point in Bob’s life though was his Dad Frank, who was suffering from cancer and had been away from the Sacraments for forty years. A year after Bob’s career switch the phone rang, it was Frank’s doctor who told Bob that his father was dying and asked to see him.  Bob got onto the next plane to Sydney and went straight to the hospital and to his father’s bedside. He had been wondering what it was that his Dad wanted to talk about. But Frank was only interested in some details about his Will. They ironed out the details, then Bob asked:

Dad is that all? Frank said: Yes that’s all. Bob then pulled out his Rosary and said: Now we are going to pray. 

Bob started the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a Catholic nurse joined in. Fifteen minutes later, Bob’s Dad grabbed his son’s arm, looked him in the face and said: Bob, I need to see a Priest. A Priest was called and after Confession, Frank received the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. The next day Frank’s cancer went into remission. Frank is now doing well and is a daily Communicant! This is a true story, but names have been changed.

As long as there is life, there is hope and we need to be God’s instruments in helping to save others, for God desires that no one be eternally lost! However, He also respect our freewill and needs the prayers of the good, in order to save sinners. Let’s pray every day for the conversion of sinners! All Praise to Jesus Christ, now and forever!