FROM THE PULPIT
One day Jill decides to ask God for help. "Dear Lord," she prays, "if I don't get some cash, I'm gonna lose everything. Please let me win the lottery."
Lottery night comes, but Jill doesn't win. She prays even harder, saying, "God, why have you forsaken me? My children are starving. Please just let me win this once."
Suddenly there is a blinding flash of light, and Jill hears God speak. "Sweetheart, work with me on this," he says. "Buy a ticket."
As a society we love discovering treasures, we spend huge amounts of money on Lottery tickets or going down to the casinos in Connecticut and playing the slots or tables, we even have metal detectors as we search out the sandy beaches for hidden treasures. Our search for treasure doesn’t necessarily mean that we are unhappy with what we have been blessed with but it’s an indication that we hope for more. The same situation occurs with our life with God. We have been given so much by him which is the salvation we find in Christ that gives us the promise of eternal life but yet we know that there is more to come.
This morning’s/evening’s gospel has three short parables about the kingdom of God. So often these parables about the kingdom of God takes us to the end of time and the judgment that we will all undergo, these are illustrated in the first two parables by selling all to buy the field or the pearl of great price, and in the third parable we heard about the separation of the good and bad fish. The judgment motif shows us that God’s kingdom is everlasting, it has just reign and presence. The kingdom of God is not a place or a territory as this church would be considered a place but that the kingdom is God’s dominion over all creation.
The gospel passage this morning/evening invites us to be bold! In the first reading we hear about Solomon who could have asked for anything and what does he ask for, “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” Like Solomon we should pray for wisdom so that we can recognize the great treasure of the kingdom when it appears. We need “an understanding heart” so that we can be wise and bold about our discipleship, so that we know the presence of the kingdom of God, and about cultivating grateful hearts for the great treasure God offers us in Christ Jesus.
The Church, and we who are members of the Church, are in the world, but not of the world. Keeping this in mind can help us deal with two difficulties that we all have to face. First, it helps us understand why scandalous things happen inside the Church. Unfortunately we were reminded of this past week with WYD with the abuse scandals that the church of Australia are facing with and how Pope Benedict reached out to those that have been effected by this.
The net is in the ocean, so if it's being dragged through an area of polluted water, some of the pollution is bound to flow through the net. This is one of the reasons why Pope Benedict keeps reminding us that we must evangelize culture from within, purifying the water around us by lives of holiness and virtue. When Pope Benedict visited our country in April he told our bishops, "Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish" (Address to US Bishops, 16 April 2008). Scandals should sadden us, but they shouldn't weaken our faith. As long as the net is in the water, the polluted water can affect some of the fish.
Secondly, this perspective helps us understand why we ourselves are still constantly bombarded by temptations. Just because we pray, receive the sacraments, and try to follow Church teaching doesn't mean that our lives are going to be free from conflict and suffering. God in his wisdom has left the net in the water, and so we are not insulated from life's storms. But as long as we stay inside the net, the storms can do us no lasting damage - they will just make us better swimmers. And how do we stay inside the net? By following Christ's example and teaching. As the Psalmist says in today's Psalm, "Truly I love your commands more than the finest gold."
Gold sinks, but obeying God's commands as taught by the Church will lift us up onto the bright, warm shores of a deeper friendship with Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our priceless and everlasting treasure.