OT XVII [A] Sunday (July 26) one-page summary of an 8-minute homily
OT XVII [A] Sunday (July 26) one-page summary of an 8-minute homily
Introduction: Today’s readings teach us that Faith in Jesus as our God and Savior and sacrificing everything in life to do the will of God are equivalent to discovering and possessing the most valuable treasure or the pearl of great price. In other words, keeping a personal relationship with Christ and sharing his view of life are the most beautiful, the most precious things in the world.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading tells us how the young King Solomon opted for the great treasure of accepting God to rule his life by doing God’s will. That is why he requested of God for the gift of prudence, “an understanding heart to distinguish right from wrong, so that he might govern God’s people properly. Yahweh was pleased with his request and granted him a wise and discerning heart which enabled him to surpass everyone in wisdom. In the second reading, Paul teaches that wisdom to perceive God's grace and use it, is essential for those who want to follow Him and to do His will, thus remaining in His Kingdom. He assures Rome’s Christian community that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” In the Gospel, using three mini parables and one concluding parable or simile, Jesus teaches us that God’s Kingdom (the rule of God in us, accepting Jesus as our God and Savior, putting our Faith in God and doing His will), is something of extraordinary value, like a hidden treasure or a costly pearl, and that possessing it calls for a total commitment to preserve it. The Kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our society, and in our world. Only those who develop a searching mind and a heart willing to give up everything for the great treasure of God’s Kingdom will be rewarded. Through the first and second parables of the treasure and pearl, Jesus teaches us that identifying God’s will and living according to the Gospel (both with His grace), are the most precious and worthwhile things in life. Through Jesus and his Gospel, we come to know and understand the real meaning of life, the will of God for us each day, and the most important things we must do to secure our eternal salvation.
Life messages: 1) We should live every moment in view of our precious goal. Most of the time, we are chasing false treasures such as money, social status or worldly pleasures. Thus, the really valuable “pearl” of sharing in God’s life through Jesus here on earth and later in Heaven, is never found. Let us always remember that Heaven is within the reach of all of us who try to do the will of God, following the ordinary vocations of life and enjoying this world's joys and pleasures within the framework of God's Commandments. When we do this, we are already living in the Kingdom of Heaven while we are still on earth.2) We need to take all precautions to keep our greatest treasure safe: We will be able to keep safe the treasure of our personal relationship with Jesus by accepting him every day as our God and Savior, by allowing him to have total control over our lives through our loving obedience to his will, by asking him daily for the strengthening and guidance of his Holy Spirit, by talking to him daily in prayer, by listening to him in our meditative reading of the Bible, by getting reconciled to him and others every day, asking pardon and forgiveness for our sins, by offering Him our lives on the altar during the Holy Mass, and by allowing Him to nourish our souls frequently, by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
OT XVII [A] (July 26): 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
Homily Starter Anecdotes: # 1: The Cullinan Diamond: This is a true story - no matter how much like a fairy tale it may sound. A totally unsuspecting man literally stumbled upon the world's largest diamond - all 3,106 carats of it. It happened in Premier Mine #2, near Pretoria, South Africa, in early 1905. This amazing stone was then sent in an ordinary cardboard box to England. One hundred and five stones were cut from this diamond, known as the Cullinan diamond. Two of the largest stones which it produced, the 530-carat Star of Africa and the 317-carat Cullinan II, are mounted on the Scepter with the Cross of the British King/Queen as royal Crown Jewels. Cullinan I is the second largest polished gem and Cullinan II is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. [Isaac Asimov, Book of Facts, (New York: Wings Books, 1979), pp. 16-17.] In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God with such a treasure. You tube presentation: (https://youtu.be/Kka_iL8Uvv4)
# 2: Pink Diamond of Tanzania Dr. Williamson was a geologist doing some archeological excavation work in Tanzania. One day he found himself driving in a deserted area, slipping and sliding along a rain-soaked road. Suddenly his four-wheel drive vehicle sank up to its axles in the mud and got stuck. Pulling out his shovel, Dr. Williamson began the unpleasant task of digging the car out of a mud hole. He had been at it for a while when his shovel uncovered something strange. It was a pinkish stone of some sort. Being a geologist and naturally curious about rock formations, he picked it up and wiped away the mud. The more mud he removed, the more excited he became, and he could hardly believe what he saw. When the stone was finally clean, Dr. Williamson was beside himself with joy. He had discovered the diamond which became known as the famous Pink Diamond of Tanzania and is now set in the royal scepter of Great Britain. In today’s two parables, Jesus tells of two other men who unexpectedly discovered treasures
# 3: God is in charge: Henry Ford (1863-1947) was the famous American motor manufacturer who pioneered large-scale motor production. He was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. A man, who went to interview Mr. Ford when he was very old, was surprised to find him calm and serene. The interviewer asked him, “Sir, are you not worried in your life? You have to face so many problems every day and deal with so many workers. Don’t you feel the strain on yourself?” Henry Ford replied, “No! I am not worried. I believe that God is managing the affairs and He doesn’t need my advice. With God in charge, I believe that everything will work for the best in the end.” -- All things work for good for those who love God,” assures St. Paul in today’s second reading. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
# 4: Hidden treasure of a bankrupt rancher: In west Texas, there is a famous oil field known as the Yates Oil Field. It is a giant oil field in the Permian basin of west Texas, bordering Pecos river. The field has produced more than one billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest in the United States. Estimated recoverable reserves are still approximately one billion barrels, which represents approximately 50% of the original oil in place. During the depression, this field was a sheep ranch owned Mr. Ira and Mrs. Ann Yates. Ira was not able to make enough money on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on his mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others, had to live on a government subsidy. Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling west Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would be able to pay his bills. Ira heard about oil excavation in Texas and invited Transcontinental Oil Company to explore his land for oil. A crew from the oil company came into the area and told Mr. Yates that there was oil on this land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease. At a little more than a thousand feet, they struck a huge oil reserve, giving eighty thousand barrels a day. In fact, thirty years after the discovery, a government test of one of Mr. Yates' wells showed that it still could produce more than a hundred thousand barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he had purchased the land, he received the oil and mineral rights. And yet, he had been living on relief - a multimillionaire living in poverty. What had been the problem? He did not know the oil was there. He owned it, but he did not possess it. -- In today’s Gospel Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a treasure hidden in a field. [James Hewett, How to Live Confidently in a Hostile World (Wheaton, IL: Word Publishing, 1989), p. 177.] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yates_Oil_Field
Introduction: In today’s Gospel, Jesus concludes a long series of parables about the reign of God by praising those wise men and women who have listened carefully, understood and responded to his message. The first reading tells us how the young King Solomon opted for the great treasure of accepting God to rule his life and then doing God’s will. That is why he asked of God “an understanding heart” to distinguish right from wrong, so that he might govern God’s people properly. Yahweh was pleased with his request and granted him a wise and discerning heart which enabled him to surpass everyone in wisdom. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 119), the psalmist says of the commands of God, “For I love Your commands more that gold however fine. For in all Your precepts, I go forward; every false way I hate,” thus showing real Wisdom. In the second reading, Paul teaches that the wisdom to perceive God's grace is essential for those who want to follow Him and to do His will, thus remaining in His kingdom. He assures Rome’s Christian community that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us that God’s Kingdom (the rule of God in us; our acceptance of Jesus as our God and Savior, then putting our Faith in him, and doing His will), is something of extraordinary value, like a hidden treasure or costly pearl, and that safeguarding it within us calls for total commitment. The Kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our society, and in our world. Only those who develop a searching mind and are willing to give up everything for the great treasure of God’s Kingdom will be rewarded. Through the first and second parables, of the treasure and the pearl, Jesus teaches us that identifying God’s will and living according to the Gospel, both with His help, are the most precious and worthwhile things in life. Through Jesus and his Gospel, we come to know and understand the real meaning of life and the most important things we must do to secure our eternal salvation.
The first reading (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12) explained: In the Old Testament, dreams were the accepted means of Divine communication, especially for rulers seeking God's guidance. In our first reading, God appears to young king Solomon with an undeserved, generous offer: "Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.” The ancient Semitic belief was that people think with their hearts and feel with their kidneys. The latter were considered the source of our emotions and the former, the source of our thoughts and insights. Thus, when Solomon says, “Give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people and to distinguish right from wrong,” he’s simply requesting a mind capable of seeing what others overlook. He asks for an understanding heart so that he will be able to deal well with people, act compassionately and discern right from wrong. He selflessly asks for "a heart with skill to listen" - sensitivity in understanding his subjects' needs, skillful decision-making – in order to build a just society. Wisdom gives us insight into what is truly important in life, an awareness of the meaning and purpose of living, of what really matters. Wisdom is an understanding of where our real well-being and happiness lie. Wisdom is indeed the “pearl of great price," that Jesus speaks of. While Solomon discerns and follows the right way, he is a model and a challenge for us. His request here invites us to cultivate his prayer for a heart and mind attuned to God's word and docile to His desires. Prayer means asking God for what He wants to give -- that which makes us better able to do His will of loving service to others. In this reading, Solomon recognizes two things: i) wisdom ultimately comes from God; and ii), from wisdom, all other blessings will flow. Using the language, we find in today’s parables, we could say that Solomon asked for a “treasure” or a “pearl of great price.” And he got it. The reading teaches us that when we fulfill our duties as God desires, we are in His presence and on the threshold of the Kingdom.
The second reading (Romans 8:28-30) explained: In this lesson from the Epistle to the Romans, Paul makes two important statements: i) "All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose" and ii) "and those He predestined He also called; and those He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified." The second statement simply means that God is calling people through the stages of spiritual growth needed for enjoying eternity with Him: we are predestined, called, justified, and glorified. When Paul speaks about those whom God has predestined, he doesn’t mean that God chooses some to be saved and others to be lost. God’s plan is for all to be saved. This means it is God’s active will that all be saved, but God’s permissive will allows individuals to accept or reject God’s salvation. In other words, God’s original intention (and still existing desire) is for all mankind to be with Him in Heaven; but only those who respond by fulfilling what is asked of them will be able to reach the throne of God. The first statement means that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is present when all things somehow work together for good for those who love God. The “Kingdom of God” is present when we know that there is absolutely nothing in this world or out of it that can separate us from Christ’s love for us. If we are following in the footsteps of Christ, they will lead us to the Kingdom of the Father. The Kingdom of God is a treasure worth our selling all that we have in order that we may possess it. This treasure is of such great value that anything else we may own pales by comparison. It would be easy to give up everything else in order to have the Kingdom of God, and, unlike the treasure hidden in the field, the love of Christ is a treasure everyone is invited to possess.
Gospel exegesis: What is the “Kingdom of Heaven” like? Jesus continues his teaching on the “Kingdom of Heaven” using little stories based on the experiences of rural Galileans. Like Jesus’ mini stories of the mustard seed and the leaven, those of the treasure and the pearl form a pair of His “Kingdom parables.” Jesus tells us that true wisdom involves recognizing a pearl of great price and being willing to sacrifice all to purchase it. The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is “a society on earth where God's will is as perfectly done as it is in Heaven.” By “Kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus is referring to a triple reality: a) a group of people sharing the Divine life of sanctifying grace and friendship with God by doing His will, b) participation in God’s life through the Eucharistic celebration in the Church and c) eternal bliss in Heaven. This triple reality is worth more than anything else in our lives. In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares the “Kingdom of Heaven” to a treasure hidden in a field, to a pearl of great value and to a net thrown in the sea collecting all types of fish. The "Kingdom of Heaven," synonymous in these parables with the "Kingdom of God,” is hidden, but it is of surpassing value. The parable of the pearl (45-46) makes the point that the sacrifice of everything must be made for this one thing of immense value. Those who have not sacrificed everything for it will not have this treasure and will come to know how much they have lost.
The parable of the treasure hunter: The first two parables in today’s Gospel – the parables of the buried treasure and the pearl – are lessons in the total attachment to Christ and detachment from the things of the world demanded of the disciple to make the reign of God in himself, and in the world, a reality. Frequent battles and foreign invasions encouraged the people of Palestine to bury their treasures like money and jewelry in their fields. For example, the great religious treasure – the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” discovered in the caves at Qumran in 1947 – was hidden there over 2,000 years ago. Sometimes unclaimed and forgotten, the hidden treasures await some lucky finder. Jesus tells the story of one such lucky treasure-finder who sold everything he had in order to get ownership of the field. According to the Palestinian laws of that time, the mere finding of buried treasure did not entitle the finder to possession unless he also owned the property in which it was found. In the parable of the treasure in the field and in the parable of the merchant who sought fine pearls, we see the image of one who recognizes the value of the kingdom of God and gives everything to possess it. Matthew, a tax-collector, might have experienced something like this when he discovered the eternal value of the Kingdom preached by Jesus of Nazareth. When he discovered Jesus and his vision of life, everything else became secondary. Having a personal relationship with Christ, that is, making Christ’s view of life one's own, is the most beautiful, the most precious thing in the world. But most of the time, we are chasing false treasures like money, social status and pleasure. Jesus our true treasure may come tor lives unexpectedly through some daily experience as he did with Mathew.
The parable of the pearl hunter: A well-to-do merchant on the lookout for quality pearls finds a very precious pearl ("pearl of great price"), and he immediately "sells everything" to buy it. In our day, pearls have lost much of their value. Firms have learned to culture them in vast pearl beds and even to make them artificially. However, in Biblical times, the pearl was probably the costliest and most sought-after gem. Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is worth all we have. He has come to offer us God's Kingdom, a unique pearl of the greatest price. The genuine disciples are those who respond to this opportunity with joy and selfless commitment, eagerly giving top priority to life in the Kingdom by doing God’s will, whatever it may be. The “treasures” and “pearls” of lasting value are the things of God. They are the love of family and friends, the support of community, and the sense of fulfillment that rises from serving and giving for the sake of others. In order to attain such treasure, we must “sell off” our own interests, ambitions and agendas and thus free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of the compassion, love and mercy of God Who reconciles us to Himself. This parable teaches us that, although we are baptized Christians, we still need to pursue the true and full meaning of the Gospel, which can escape us for many years. We always need to understand more, to love more, and to serve more. The first and second parables also remind us that the most precious things in life are to know God and to live according to the Gospel. “Isn’t it possible that what we want most is something very selfish: possessions, security, power, pleasure, comfort? What would the world be like if, instead of these, our one really valuable pearl was something like world peace based on justice for all? or the development of a classless society based on respect for all and the priority of need over want? or the worship of God through prayer, service, and a preferential option for the poor? What would the world be like? Jesus says it would be like the kingdom. Buying the treasure and the pearl is the beginning of wisdom, living out the influences of these purchases is righteousness.” (Father Larry Gillick, SJ, Creighton University)
The parable of the fishing net: In Palestine, there were two main ways of fishing. The first was with the casting-net, which required a keen eye and great skill in throwing the net at the correct moment. The second was with a dragnet or seine, as it is sometimes called. Galilean seine-nets were tied to two boats and drawn through the water. The catch was sorted only afterwards, with edible or kosher fish going to market and the unacceptable fish being thrown away. Just as a dragnet collects good and bad fish indiscriminately, so the Church is a mixture of all kinds of people, good and bad, useful and useless, saints and sinners. Like the wheat and weeds parable, this parable is a warning against premature judgment, but also a warning which tells us judgment will take place. This parable encourages the Church to adopt an open approach to evangelism, by accepting "the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame" (Luke 14:21) and by leading them to the treasure and the pearl of great price. It instructs us to be tolerant, compassionate and understanding of those who seem to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom. Through this parable of the dragnet, Jesus calls us to embrace the vision of God that seeks out the good and nurtures it and looks for the right and just in all things amid the “junk” of life. The parable also teaches that a time of separation will come when the good and the bad will be sent to their respective destinies. This parable pictures that separation as happening in the final judgment. This parable is thus a counterpart to the parable of the weeds and the wheat.
The teaching: The three parables illustrate the opportunity as well as the challenge of discipleship. The first and the second parables speak of the total commitment and dedication which are the ideal of every follower of Christ. What the parables really teach us is that, when one discovers Jesus and his vision of life, everything else becomes secondary. That is what St. Paul meant when he said: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8), and again "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 2:21). To have a personal experience of Christ and personal relationship with Him – in other words, to have made Christ’s view of life one's own – is the most precious thing in the world. “Life under God’s righteous rule is to be sought about everything else.” (HarperCollins Bible Commentary). “The parables are very alike, but it is interesting to note the differences: the treasure means abundance of gifts; the pearl indicates the beauty of the Kingdom. The treasure is something stumbled upon; the pearl, the result of a lengthy search—but in both instances, the finder is filled with joy. Faith, vocation, true wisdom, desire for heaven, are things that sometimes are discovered suddenly and unexpectedly, and sometimes after much searching … However, the man’s attitude is the same in both parables and is described in the same terms: ‘he goes and sells all that he has and buys it’: detachment and generosity are indispensable for obtaining the treasure.” (The Navarre Bible: Gospels and Acts). “God’s presence and reign are often hidden below the surface of life, but we experience little epiphanies of it at surprising, unplanned moments.” (The Lectionary Commentary, Vol. 3: The Gospels).
The concluding parable or simile. Jesus concludes his parables by advising the listeners to imitate wise scribes (Jewish scholars -- the experts in the Law and/or Scriptures). Hence, a scholar need not give up his scholarship when he becomes a Christian; rather he should use it for Christ. A businessman need not give up his business; rather he should run it as a Christian would. Christians are also expected to be like scholars who know how to value both the old and the new. In this simile, Jesus refers to those, who like Matthew himself, now serve as scribes trained for the Kingdom of Heaven and serving their local Churches. Such a scribe, Jesus tells us, is one who brings forth from his storeroom both the old and the new. Already trained in the meanings of all the stories and wise sayings from the Old Testament, such scribes, when they teach the Gospel to new believers, are able to show that all Jesus’ teachings and deeds are truly the “fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.” Thus, they demonstrate that Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven does not destroy, but genuinely reinterprets, the Jewish tradition to show its full Truth for all ages. Jesus does not replace what we call the Old Testament with the New Testament. He is combining the best of the Hebrew Scriptures with the New Way, the Kingdom of God. The wise ones, the scribes of the Kingdom, therefore, know how to use what is old and what is new. The parable teaches that the teacher in the Church should draw teachings out of the Hebrew Scriptures and the words of Jesus, thereby gaining new insights to transmit to others.” (The Lectionary Commentary, Vol. 3: The Gospels). Hence, those of us who are the Church’s preachers and teachers have the responsibility to bring forth both the new and the old, to teach the Bible in a way that speaks to and about the present, and to read the present by the Bible’s light. (Beverly R. Gaventa, Online at The Christian Century).
Life messages: 1) We should live every moment in view of our precious goal. Most of the time, we are chasing false treasures such as money, status or pleasure. Often, we are locked into regrets over the past, or focused too much on the future. As a result, the enriching present passes us by, and the treasure is never discovered. Thus, the really valuable pearl of sharing in God’s life through Jesus here on earth and later in Heaven is never found. Let us always remember that Heaven is within the reach of all of us who try to do the will of God, following the ordinary vocations of life and enjoying this world's joys and pleasures within the framework of God's Commandments. Right now, it is for us to use the time given to us to go in search of the pearl of great price and to help others in their search. We are challenged to search and discern where the Lord is calling us so that we may know what path to take. Let us remember that whenever we fight against discrimination, whenever we trust completely in God, whenever our selflessness conquers selfishness, whenever our love overcomes sin and our Faith overcomes suffering, whenever we render humble service to others, we are doing the will of God as it is done in Heaven, Hence, we are already living in the Kingdom of Heaven while we are still on earth. The pearl of great price in this life is also found in our human relationships: a happy family, good friends, and people who love and accept us, even if neither we nor they are perfect. We must give all we have to possess this great pearl because, through selfishness and self-worship, we can destroy entirely the bond of love joining us to God and each other, a bond that otherwise would flourish, surviving in spite of sickness, disease or geographical distance, and growing stronger when death divides us.
2) We need to take all precautions to keep our greatest treasure safe: We will be able to keep safe the treasure of our personal relationship with Jesus by accepting him every day as our God and Savior, by allowing him to have total control over our lives through our loving obedience to his will, by asking him daily for the strengthening and guidance of his Holy Spirit. We do this by talking to him daily in prayer, by listening to him in our meditative reading of the Bible, by getting reconciled to him and others every day, asking pardon and forgiveness for our sins, by offering Him our lives on the altar during the Holy Mass, and by nourishing our souls frequently, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
3) We need to learn the lesson of the dragnet: This parable offers us a lesson in tolerance and compassionate understanding. In this, it resembles the parable of the weeds growing up with the wheat, for both parables teach us that the kingdom is a mixed body of saints and sinners (wheat and weeds; good and rotten fish). There will be always a temptation for those who feel they are more "faithful" to separate themselves from the “weeds”/” bad fish.” But Jesus reminds us that the final judgment resulting in reward or punishment is God’s work. Thus, we must learn to be patient, compassionate and understanding with those who seem to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom. Let us humbly admit the fact that there are only a very few of us who are not a mixture of good and evil and that the good is the result of God’s work within us, while we are responsible for the evil. Let us gratefully declare as St. Paul did, “I am what I am with the grace of God.”
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1) My treasure is apple pie. Little Mary listened intently in Sunday school while the teacher explained the parable of the “treasure” and “pearl” and gave a detailed description of eternal bliss in Heaven. She concluded her class asking the question, “All those who are ready to go to Heaven, raise your hands.” Every hand went up except one. “Don’t you want to go to Heaven, Mary?” asked the teacher. “Not this minute,” Mary replied, “Mom was baking apple pie when I left home!”
2) Treasure in the Bible. Because she was so poor, the parish helped the widow with food and rent money. Her son had emigrated to New York and become very successful. One day the pastor asked Mrs. O’Leary if she ever heard from her son. Proudly the widow answered, "Bob writes me every week and always encloses a picture." Thinking he’d see some family photos, the pastor asked to see the pictures. Bringing in her Bible, she showed the pastor a Bible stuffed with pictures of Benjamin Franklin. Those are $100 bills, in case you missed it! Bob had been trying to help his mother for years and the old woman had failed to realize the treasure she was given every week.
3) Lost & found: "Life is unfair. I lost my car keys at a ball game and never found them. I lost my sunglasses at the beach and never found them. I lost my socks in the washing machine and never found them. I lost three pounds on a diet -- I found them and five more!"
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
1) Catholic online Bible commentary: http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id19.html
2) Catholic Information Network: http://www.cin.org/
3) For Roman Breviary prayers (Divine Office) in your computer: http://www.ibreviary.com/m/breviario.php?s=lodi
3) Medical miracle due to Pope Francis’ kiss: https://youtu.be/N8prwsvdBWA
4) Five Amazing Treasures Discovered By Accident! https://youtu.be/HovnTzQ7yIg
5)Bishop Barron’s video homily in O. T. XVII: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/all-things-work-together-for-good/5543/
6) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
22- Additional anecdotes
1) “Star of David Sapphire.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the story of the original “Star of David Sapphire” in its May 17, 1987 issue. A gemstone collector named Rob Cutshaw owned a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. Like many in the trade, he hunted for precious stones, then sold them to collectors or jewelry-makers. Although he was not an expert, he knew enough about valuable rocks to decide which to pick up and sell. He usually left the appraising of his rocks to the experts. Although he enjoyed the work, it did not always pay the bills. Hence, occasionally he had to cut firewood and sell it to add to his income. Twenty years ago, while on a "dig," Rob found a shining blue rock he described as "purdy and big." He tried unsuccessfully to sell the specimen, and, according to the story in the journal, kept the rock under his bed or in his closet. At last he sold it for less than $500 to pay his power bill. Now known as "The Star of David Sapphire,” it weighs nearly a pound and is worth three million dollars. In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to recognize the real worth of the most valuable gemstone given to mankind, namely Jesus Christ who gives us our eternal salvation.
2) There is a price for relationship. Rabindra Nath Tagore, the mystic poet of India, tells a memorable story from his own life which illustrates the truth of what Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel, namely, that there is a price we have to pay in order to be in his Kingdom, to keep a relationship with him. Tagor’s cook and housekeeper did not come to work on time one morning. Like so many professional men of his mind-set, Tagore was utterly helpless when it came to the routine details of the day, getting his clothes together, making his breakfast, tidying up his place. An hour went by, and Tagore was getting angrier by the minute. He thought of all kinds of punishment. Three hours later he no longer thought of punishment. He would discharge the man without any further consideration, get rid of him, turn him out. Finally, the man showed up. It was mid-day. Without a word, the servant proceeded with his duties as though nothing had happened. He picked up Tagore’s clothes and set to making breakfast. Then he started cleaning. Tagore watched all of this with mounting rage. Finally, he said, “Drop everything! Get out! I can’t stand the sight of you. You are dismissed…fired!” The man, however, continued sweeping, and after another, few minutes, with quiet dignity he said, “My little girl died last night.”
3) Drinkable water, please: Anthony De Mello tells a story about some people who were on a raft off the coast of Brazil. They were perishing from thirst, for as you know, ocean water is undrinkable. What they did not know, however, was that the water they were floating on was fresh water. The Amazon River was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea. "In the same way," says De Mello, "we're surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love of the kingdom of God in our midst. Most people," he concludes, "have no idea." [Anthony De Mello, Awareness (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1992), p. 26, Warner Press]
4) No price too high." A story is told of a wealthy socialite who traveled to Europe with several friends. Her husband stayed home and played the stock market. While in Paris she found a fur coat that was the most beautiful she had ever seen. She sent a telegram to her husband that said, "Have found the perfect coat for only $50,000. What do you think?" He responded immediately with a telegram saying, "No, price too high." Imagine his surprise when she returned home with that $50,000 coat. The angry husband said, "Didn't you get my telegram?" "Yes," she said, "and here it is." The husband looked at that telegram which said, without punctuation, "NO PRICE TOO HIGH." He forgot to put a comma after NO. That's the way it is with life in the Kingdom. When through Jesus you catch a glimpse of how wonderful life is in the Kingdom, no price is too high to pay for it.
5) The Legendary "Beale Treasure”: In 1885, a man named J.B Ward began selling a pamphlet which claimed to contain information about a sizeable treasure trove buried in the present state of Virginia. This wealth allegedly had been amassed by one Thomas Jefferson Beale and his associates, who had traveled in the American West between 1817 and 1823. Beale, it was said, had discovered a vast deposit of gold and silver in a valley "some 250 or 300 miles North of Santa Fe." Beale and his associates, being concerned about theft of their wealth and in need of a secure hiding place, supposedly buried the gold at a site "near Buford’s Tavern" in Bedford county, Virginia. Foreseeing some type of accident, Beale left coded messages—without a decoding key, which was said to be held elsewhere by a man named Morriss. Beale then departed, never to return. By sheer chance one Mr. Ward came across the papers and attempted to decode them. He claimed to have found the key to one document, the cipher being based on the US Declaration of Independence. He worked on the remaining two for many years. Finding himself unable to accomplish the task, he decided to sell copies of the documents, in the hope that someone else might manage to decode the papers and discover the location of the treasure. Since the publication of the papers in 1885, many treasure hunters have attempted to decode the documents, but have had no success whatsoever. In today’s Gospel Jesus challenges, us to go in search of the most valuable treasure: namely, the eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
6) Mitt Romney spent more than $42 million: It has been reported that, in his race for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Mitt Romney spent more than 42 million of his own hard-earned dollars. That’s a lot of money. However, when he dropped out, he still had quite a bit of money left in his personal piggy bank. He hadn’t invested everything he owned in his failed attempt for the nomination. -- We wonder if he regrets spending so much or, perhaps, he regrets he didn’t spend more. How about you? Is there anything in this world for which you would sell everything you own? I can think of only one thing: the life of someone we love. If one of our children were sick and there was a cure that would cost everything we had, even including our own life, most of us would be willing to give it all up without a moment’s thought. We would give everything we own for the well-being of those we love, but that’s about it. Nothing else that I can think of has that big a hold on us. Yet, Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is worth everything we have. Our money. Our time. Our energy. Everything. That’s quite a statement. Everything we own. So, what is this Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God?
7) The treasure of a sunken ship: Some time ago at one of our suppers, we had for our speaker a shareholder in Mel Fisher's enterprise. Mel Fisher is the man who discovered a Spanish ship which had gone down in a hurricane off the Florida Keys centuries ago. Fisher, fascinated with hunting for lost treasure, determined through research the probable location of the shipwreck. He thought it would take him at least twelve weeks to find it. Twelve weeks turned into twelve years, and still there was no treasure. Finally, after sixteen years he discovered the treasure. It is believed to be worth four hundred million dollars. How would you like to discover some real treasure like the Kingdom of God? But the unfortunate thing, as Oscar Wilde once wrote, is that in modern society, “People know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”
8) “You will be both glad and sorry." There is an ancient legend about some men who were on a long journey. They came across a great desert and rode into a wilderness area. At sundown they came to a river. They got off their horses and knelt down by the river to drink water. Suddenly a voice spoke to them. The voice said, "Fill your pockets up with pebbles from along the river. And tomorrow you will be both glad and sorry." So, they did what the voice commanded. They got on their horses and rode away. On through the night they rode. Finally, the sun began to peek over the horizon. They stopped and reached into their pockets and there they found diamonds and rubies. They held a treasure in their hands, and they were both glad and sorry. They were glad they had it, but they were sorry because they had not taken more. [T. Cecil Myers, Faith for a Time of Storm (Abingdon Press: New York and Nashville, 1963), p. 91.] The Good News for us is we can have all we want of the treasure of God’s Kingdom; all we are willing to take. If we will take that treasure, we will learn it is the discovery of a lifetime.
9) Which is more valuable, Harry or the deer? Some friends who went deer-hunting separated into pairs for the day. That night one hunter returned alone, staggering under an eight-point deer. "Where’s Harry?" asked another hunter. "Oh, he fainted a couple of miles up on the trail," Harry’s partner answered. "And you left him lying there all alone and carried the deer back?" "A tough call," said the hunter, "but I figure no one’s going to steal Harry." Our Scripture for this Sunday is about discerning and choosing the right path and course of action at the right time, so that we may fully receive and freely share the love of Christ and so inherit the kingdom of God, a treasure everyone is invited to possess and warned not to lose.
10) All things will work out well: Dale Carnegie came from a poor, but God-fearing family. His father was a farmer and his mother was a village schoolteacher. They never had enough food to eat or clothes to wear. They were always in debt. Once, his father borrowed money from the bank for cultivation. Unfortunately, that year there was a flood, and their crops were washed away. They had neither food to eat nor money to replay the bank. The bankers began to harass them. His father began to worry. He worked sixteen hours a day in the field, yet he felt no hunger; he began to lose weight. The doctor told his wife that he had barely six months to live. His mother was concerned. Whenever he went to farm to feed the horses and milk the cows, and did not come home early, she would go in search of him, fearing him hanging on some tree. One day, when his father was returning from the farm, the bankers met him on the road and threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to repay the loan. On his way back, he stood on the bridge-looked down at the water, contemplating suicide. Later, he told his son that the only reason he did not commit suicide was because of his wife’s staunch, deep, abiding and joyous belief that if we loved God and kept His commandments, everything would come out all right in the end. And he said that his mother was right. Everything came out well in the end. His father lived happily for forty-two years after that incident. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
11) Commitment of Olympic trainees: Some time ago a magazine ran a story about teenagers who belong to the Santa Clara Swimming Club. Every morning they get up at 5:30 and hurry through the chilly air to an outdoor pool. There they swim for two solid hours. After a shower and a quick bite to eat, they hurry off to school. After school they return to the pool to swim for two more hours. At 5:00 they hurry home, hit the schoolbooks, eat a late supper, and fall into bed exhausted. The next morning the alarm rings at 5:30 and they start the whole thing all over again. When asked why she follows such a disciplined schedule, one girl said, “My only goal is to make the Olympic team. If going to parties hurts that, then why go? There is no such thing as too much work. The more miles I swim, the better, Sacrifice is the thing.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to show such whole-hearted commitment to keep the most valuable treasure of an intimate relationship with Jesus, accepting Him as Lord and Savior and doing his will. (Fr. Botelho).
12) “El Dorado” treasure: In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans believed that somewhere in the New World there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Their searches for this treasure wasted countless lives. The origins of El Dorado lie deep in South America. And like all enduring legends, the tale of El Dorado contains some scraps of truth. When Spanish explorers reached South America in the early 16th century, they heard stories about a tribe of natives high in the Andes Mountains in what is now Colombia. When a new chieftain rose to power, his rule began with a ceremony at Lake Guatavita. Accounts of the ceremony vary, but they consistently say: The new ruler was covered with gold dust, and that gold and precious jewels were thrown into the lake to appease a god that lived underwater. The Spaniards started calling this golden chief “El Dorado,” "the gilded one." The ceremony of the gilded man supposedly ended in the late 15th century when El Dorado and his subjects were conquered by another tribe. But the Spaniards and other Europeans had found so much gold among the natives along the continent's northern coast that they believed there had to be a place of great wealth somewhere in the interior. The Spaniards didn't find El Dorado, but they did find Lake Guatavita and tried to drain it in 1545. They lowered its level enough to find hundreds of pieces of gold along the lake's edge. But the presumed fabulous treasure in the deeper water was beyond their reach. -- In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of one who found a treasure. (Fr. Bobby Jose: http://frbobyjose.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-for-fr-boby-jose.html ).
13) The treasure discovered in a Hindu Temple. The seven-member panel, drawing up a list of assets at the famed Sree Padmanabhaswamy Hindu temple of Trivanrum, the capital city of Kerala State in South India, had the feel of finding the lost city of gold, El Dorado, as they set foot in one of the two secret vaults located inside the sprawling granite structure. The team opened the locks of vault A. What they saw inside was startling. Gold coins dating back thousands of years, gold necklaces as long as nine feet and weighing about 2.5 kg, about one ton of the yellow metal in the shape of rice trinkets, sticks made of the yellow metal, sacks full of diamonds, gold ropes, thousands of pieces of antique jewelry studded with diamonds and emeralds, crowns and other precious stones lay scattered in the chamber. The next day threw up far more surprises in the form of 17 kg of gold coins dating back to the East India Company period, 18 coins from Napoleon's era, and precious stones wrapped in silk bundles, besides over 1,000 kg of gold in the form of coins and trinkets and a small elephant made of the yellow metal. There were also sovereigns bearing the 1772 seal indicating they were from the reign of the then native king Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma. 🡪 Stories of hidden treasure have been very common from the ancient times, and in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us what our real treasure is and how to find it and keep it. (Fr. Bobby Jose).
14) "We know that all things work for good for those who love God," Paul writes, in today's Second Reading. He didn't say "some things." He said, "all things." A beautiful Jewish story illustrates this well. Rabbi Akiba [uh-KEY-buh] was once traveling through the country. He had with him a donkey, a rooster, and a lamp. At nightfall, he reached a village where he sought shelter for the night. But no one took him in. "All that God does is done well," said the Rabbi, and proceeding toward the forest, he resolved to pass the night there. He lit his lamp, but the wind blew it out. "All that God does is done well," he said. The donkey and the rooster were devoured by wild beasts; yet still he said no more than, "All that God does is done well." The next day he learned that a troop of the enemy's soldiers had passed through the forest that night. If the donkey had brayed, if the rooster had crowed, or if the soldiers had seen his light, he would surely have met his death. The Rabbi said again, "All that God does is done well." (E- Priest).
15) No alternative: He was apprehended in Palestine in the early 300s for refusing to compromise his friendship with Christ by worshipping the false pagan gods. The governor tried to convince him that he was being unreasonable. He had Peter hung and stretched from the rack and torn with iron hooks. Every once in a while, the governor would invite him once again to renounce Jesus, but Peter, from the depths of his pain, would uphold his Faith. The tortures lasted so long and were so horrendous that even the crowd of onlookers became horrified, and urged the saint to save himself. But this Christian knew where his true treasure was, and he refused to give it up. After wearing out two separate shifts of torturers, Peter finally met his death by crucifixion. He is one of our many older brothers and sisters in the Church who literally gave up everything so as not lose the pearl of great price - their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (E- Priest).
16) God worked all things for the good of St. Camillus: There was a man whom God brought low in order to raise him up. His life dramatically illustrates how God can use all things, even physical ailments, for someone's ultimate good. This man was a physical giant - six foot, six inches tall. He entered the Venetian army dreaming of military glory. He fell into the vices common to soldiers, especially drinking and gambling. In the war against the Turks he suffered a leg infection. He received poor medical treatment and became partially crippled. A giant brought low, he heard the preaching of a Franciscan Friar and made the decision to give his life to God. He went on to form the Servants of the Sick - a congregation of male nurses. They cared for plague victims and the wounded on battlefields. He founded eight hospitals. He was a good administrator, but he also had the ability to focus on each patient as if the patient were the only person that mattered. This physical giant whom God transformed into a spiritual giant had the name, Camillus. We celebrated his feast day on July 18. He's a darn good saint to help you if you are suffering from an addiction or if you have a disease or an ailment that won't go away. St. Camillus illustrates how God can make all things work for good for those who love him. (Fr. Phil Bloom).
17) The costliest diamond treasures discovered: 1) Red diamond ($1,000,000 per carat, (1 carat= 200 mg). A 2.26 carat Red diamond was sold in 2007 for $ 2.7 million). 2) Gradideirite green diamond costs $20,000 per carat. 3) Jadeite green diamond costs $20,000 per carat. One was embedded in jewelry and sold for $9.3 million in 1997). 4) Pigeon-blood ruby, a red sapphire, costs $15,000 per carat. 5) D color perfect cut diamond costs $15,000 per carat. 6) Multi-colored Paraiba Tourmaline Brazilian diamond costs $12,000 per carat. (See the price list of costly diamonds in: (http://www.gemstonesadvisor.com/most-expensive-gemstones-in-the-world/). -- Jesus, in today’s Gospel, tells us that the Kingdom of God is the costliest of all treasures.
18) "There are hundreds of them coming the wrong way!' An elderly man, whose memory was beginning to lapse, decided to take the car, and travel to a new shopping centre on the other side of town. His daughter tried to dissuade him, but to no avail. She insisted, however, that he take her mobile phone, just in case he had problems. An hour or two later, she was listening to the traffic report on the radio. It told about a bus broken down on the Artane road, and traffic lights that had failed in Inchicore. The reporter went on to speak about word that had just come in about a car travelling in the wrong direction, against the flow of traffic, on the M-50 motorway round Dublin. "Oh, my God, I hope dad is alright." She rang him, and warned him about the car travelling the wrong way, as he would have to travel on that motorway. "Tell me about it," he replied, "there are hundreds of them coming the wrong way!' Living in the kingdom of God often involves going against the flow of traffic. You will meet people actually moving away from the thing you are looking for. (Biblical IE)
19) Chief executive officer and the gas station attendant: There's a charming story that Thomas Wheeler, CEO of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, tells on himself: He and his wife were driving along an Interstate highway when he noticed that their car was low on gas. Wheeler got off the highway at the next exit and soon found a rundown gas station with just one gas pump. He asked the lone attendant to fill the tank and check the oil; then went for a little walk around the station to stretch his legs. As he was returning to the car, he noticed that the attendant and his wife were engaged in an animated conversation. The conversation stopped as he paid the attendant. But as he was getting back into the car, he saw the attendant wave and heard him say, "It was great talking to you." As they drove out of the station, Wheeler asked his wife if she knew the man. She readily admitted she did. They had gone to high school together and had dated steadily for about a year. "Boy, were you lucky that I came along," bragged Wheeler. "If you had married him, you'd be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of a chief executive officer." "My dear," replied his wife, "if I had married him, he'd be the chief executive officer, and you'd be the gas station attendant!" Yes, we often think we have the proper perspective on an issue, when in fact we are way off. Jesus understood this propensity for us humans to get it wrong, especially when it comes to things spiritual. That is why Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure discovered and the costliest pearl bought. (Sermons.com; quoted by Fr. Kayala).
20) The Holy Grail : In Tennyson's tale of the Holy Grail, a knight set out to search high and low for that which lasts for eternity and gives ultimate meaning. He came upon a singing brook, with deep meadows and wonderful fruit trees. But even as he ate the fruit, it turned to dust, for no feeding of the flesh could still his deepest hunger. Riding on, he saw a home, its opened door a promised welcome and in the door, there was a beautiful woman, her eyes innocent and kind. “Surely the love of a woman and the sweet shelter of home are my heart's desire,” reasoned the knight; "but when I touched her, Lo! She too, fell into dust and nothing, and the house became no better than a broken shed." His soul still craving, he traveled on. He found a warrior clad in golden armor. But he also turned to dust. Then he came upon a city that sat upon a hill. Surely civic service and the affection of his fellow men will mean his journey's end. But when he reached the crest, there was neither city, man, nor any voice, so that he cried in grief. "Lo, if I find the Holy Grail itself, and touch it, it will crumble into dust." -- Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows? Are you tired of spinning round and round? Gather up all the broken dreams of your life and at the feet of Jesus, lay them down. Find the pearl of great price. (Quoted by Fr. Kayala: http://www.tkayala.com/2014/07/17-sunday-treasure.html#more )
21) “My Dog Saw the Rabbit”: There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old men of the desert why it was that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city. The old monk told him, "Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night. After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. "Do you understand," the old man said, "what I have told you?" "No," replied the young monk, "please tell me father." "It is simple," said the desert father, "my dog saw the rabbit." Jesus told a parable about a man who, one day in the market place, saw the pearl of great price. The merchant understood at once the value of the commodity before him and he sacrificed everything to obtain it. (https://ijboudreaux.com/2014/07/29/my-dog-saw-the-rabbit/)
22) The Kingdom Belongs to Those with the Guts: As a kid, my favorite book was Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. I read Treasure Island a dozen times. Of course, I identified with Jim, the kid in the story. But thinking back, I really loved the adults in Treasure Island, because I didn't know any adults like the ones who peopled Treasure Island, grownups who staked all, risked everything, for nothing more than some map scrawled on a piece of paper.
The adults I knew stayed home, kept their heads down, went to work in the morning and then they came back again in the evening. But in Treasure Island, they risked, they lied if needed, and they had great lives and exciting deaths. I am haunted at what somebody said at my graduation. "Remember one thing as you go forth from school into life: Even if you win the rat race, remember, you're still a rat." He was telling the truth. There is this relentless, virtually irresistible tendency of life to transmute from adventure into tame predictability. One day you're an angry, young thing, ready to grab the world by the tail and twist, dying to set the woods on fire. And the next day you're some old guy, slouched in an easy chair, complaining about how the kids are ruining the world. One day you're a kid, excited about the prospect of leaving home, abandoning your parents, and going to college where you can think as you like, and they can't do anything about it. And then the next day you're just a college student, going through the motions, trying to accumulate enough hours to graduate. Jesus says a kingdom belongs to those with the guts to stake it all on the treasure. [William H. Willimon, Go for the Gold; quoted by Fr. Kayala] L/20
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 39) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604
Distorted priorities – Eagling is a treasure and human child, waste