July 25th, 1999 17th Sunday "A"
H O M I L Y
The three parables we just heard belong to a long series of parables in the Gospel of Matthew, most of which we have already heard during the last few Sundays. The others were the parables of the sower, of the weeds and of the mustard seed. Today we have the parables of the hidden treasure, of the precious pearl and of the fisher's net cast into the water.
Although there is always a moral lesson in a parable, we should not forget that they speak to us, first of all, not about ourselves and our attitudes, but about the kingdom of God. The parable of the sower, for example, was concerned more about the seed, that is, the kingdom of God, than about the ground that received it. Likewise, today, the parables about the precious pearl and about the hidden treasure want to make us understand the greatness of that pearl and of that treasure, that is a symbol of the kingdom of God. It is only when we understand that greatness that we will be able to establish the right priorities in our lives and make the necessary sacrifices in order to acquire such a treasure.
The basic idea is always the same as in all the other parables of the kingdom: the kingdom of God is already here, but it is not fully realized yet. We are not fully in possession of it, yet.
Here again, as in all the teachings of Jesus about the King-dom, there is no call to passive waiting for the Kingdom to come, but a call to an active participation in building it. Which, of course, requires a lot of renunciation and detachment from everything else. But if we realize what a treasure the Kingdom of God is, that detach-ment from the rest will go almost without saying. Therefore let us be concerned with the treasure rather than with its price.
Jesus reminds us, as he did in the Sermon on the Mount, that the heart of a Christian cannot be divided between God and money or between God and whatever idol. In that context it is good to hear again the story of King Solomon. Solomon had his greatness and his weaknesses. However, what the people of Israel has remembered of him most of all was his wisdom, and his capacity to make justice reign in his kingdom. At the beginning of his reign, he had a vision of the Lord who said to him: "Ask something of me and I will give it to you". And what does Solomon request? He asks for wisdom. "Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong."
There are situations in life where the choice we have to make are very clearly choices between good and evil. The right choice may require courage, but it is not difficult to know what is the only right choices. There are, however, many other situations, where it is not as clearly cut. There are situations where in order to acquire the ultimate good, we must renounce many other limited goods. Those are the situations that require a special dose of wisdom. That wisdom is the Spirit of God: the spirit of Jesus. Let us ask the grace to be guided by that Wisdom who alone can give us the light and the strength to sell everything in order to acquire the precious pearl of the Kingdom of God.