Jesus Preaches in a Ship | Photo Public Domain
First reading 1 Kings 3:5,7-12
Solomon chooses the gift of wisdom
The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, ‘Ask what you would like me to give you.’ Solomon replied, ‘O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in succession to David my father. But I am a very young man, unskilled in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of this people of yours that you have chosen, a people so many its number cannot be counted or reckoned. Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?’ It pleased the Lord that Solomon should have asked for this. ‘Since you have asked for this’ the Lord said ‘and not asked for long life for yourself or riches or the lives of your enemies, but have asked for a discerning judgement for yourself, here and now I do what you ask. I give you a heart wise and shrewd as none before you has had and none will have after you.’
Responsorial Psalm 118(119):57,72,76-77,127-130
Lord, how I love your law!
My part, I have resolved, O Lord,
is to obey your word.
The law from your mouth means more to me
than silver and gold.
Let your love be ready to console me
by your promise to your servant.
Let your love come and I shall live
for your law is my delight.
That is why I love your commands
more than finest gold,
why I rule my life by your precepts,
and hate false ways.
Your will is wonderful indeed;
therefore I obey it.
The unfolding of your word gives light
and teaches the simple.
Second reading Romans 8:28-30
Those he called, he justified
We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose. They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers. He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.
Gospel Matthew 13:44-52
He sells everything he owns and buys the field
Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’
Today’s Readings invite us to re-examine our goals in life. What am I living for? What do I want in life, for myself? For those I love? Is there something still hidden that if I found it I would give everything up for it? Among the broken and unexplored shells, is there a precious pearl waiting for me that would make all the searching and all the suffering worthwhile?
The Gospel says: Yes, there is. And it is God himself calling me into a close communion of love – a love for which I am made. It is this communion of love that is the only life worth living. Nothing else, however alluring and distracting, can take its place, and to have this intimacy is to have everything. It makes everything worthwhile, for then everything is a sacrament, revealing God.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us that this life of communion with God is like a treasure hidden in a field. It is close to us all. If there is anything holding us back from it, let us give it away and accept the gift of this treasure that God offers us. This is the pearl of great price. Nothing that deprives us of it is worth pursuing.
Or we could look at the parable in a different way. We have pictured ourselves as the one who finds the treasure or the pearl and who gives up everything to obtain it. But what about imagining God as the one who finds the treasure, and the treasure is you and those you love? We do not know the beauty hidden in the fields of our lives. But God does.
Jesus came into our world and discovered a beauty in Mary of Magdala and in Peter and in the leper and in the thief on the cross which they and those around them never suspected. He found it and gave all he had to embrace it and unite it to God. As Paul says, “he loves me and gives himself for me!” (Galatians 2:20)
We are meant to live a life of intimacy with God. Let us continue our search for truth and for love and for prayer. But let us not forget that God is the one searching for us. Let us stop rushing and hiding and allow God to find us, for our longing for God is only a shadow of his longing for us.
Fr Michael Fallon msc