Jakarta, 28 July 2014
A Christian Pilgrim
THAT TREASURE IS THE LORD HIMSELF AND THE LIFE IN HIS KINGDOM
(A biblical reflection on the 17th Ordinary Sunday, 27 July 2014)
Gospel Reading: Mathew 13:44-52 (short version: Matthew 13:44-46)
First Reading: 1Kings 3:5,7-12; Psalms: Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130; Second Reading: Romans 8:28-30
The Scripture Text
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:44-52 RSV)
What is your “treasure”? What do you consider the most valuable thing you could possess? Throughout scripture, we see that God our Father wants to give us a treasure beyond all price if we but ask Him. King Salomon was called the wisest man on the earth because he asked God for wisdom and good judgment (1 Kings 3:5,7-12). Jesus’ parables frequently highlighted the “treasure” that God offers those who seek Him. The Psalms also direct us to seek treasure in God’s word, which is finer than gold (Psalm 119:127).
The man in the parable of the treasure hidden in the field eagerly set out to sell everything. Why? Because he found something worth possessing above all his other possessions. Fortunately, he only needed enough money to buy the field – not the whole treasure. In a similar fashion, God offers us the treasure of His Kingdom at a price we can afford!
We can’t pay the full price for the life God wants to give us. That treasure is the Lord Himself and life in His Kingdom, a Kingdom of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). In baptism we are united with Jesus in His death and resurrection. We become adopted children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. This is something far beyond our ability to produce, let alone maintain. Only God can make us into a new creation.
Today at Mass, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the value of the treasure that God offers each and every one of us. Let’s set aside our earthly interests for a while – concerns about our friends, our jobs, our families, and what we will do with our free times – to spend time with the Lord. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with heaven’s treasure: life and communication with Jesus forever!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my treasure and joy, my hope and consolation. Free me from all that would keep me from You. May I always find strength in Your word and delight in Your presence. Amen.
Jakarta, 25 July 2014 [Feast of St. James, Apostle]
A Christian Pilgrim
JAMES, THE SON OF ZEBEDEE [MATTHEW 20:20-28]
JESUS told the apostles what kind of leaders He wanted them to be. Like Him, they were to be servants of others, even to the point of giving their lives (Matthew 20:26-28). James was one who responded to Jesus’ call as he decided to set aside his ambitions for earthly glory (Matthew 20:20-21). Like other leaders of the early Church, he learned to die to his own desires and live for the sake of his sisters and brothers, so that “grace” might extend “to more and more people” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
James did indeed “drink the cup” of suffering that Jesus offered him. As a leader of the infant Church in Jerusalem, he faced daily the call to die to his own ideas and desires so that he could minister according to the power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, James drank the cup fully, being martyred by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2).
As Jesus’ disciples today, we too are called to give our lives so that others may know the grace and power of the Holy Spirit within them. Of course, we cannot save people as Jesus did. He is the only one who could give His life as our ransom from sin and death. Nevertheless, whenever we let the cry of the poor pierce our hearts and move us to action, we are giving our lives for the sake of God’s people. Whenever we let the Holy Spirit’s call to holiness and purity move us to repentance, we are giving our lives for the sake of the Church and its witness to Jesus.
The call to lay down our lives for the Lord is so high a calling that we can do it only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Like James and Paul, we are called to put to death our old nature each day and to let the life of Christ shine through us (2 Corinthians 4:11). Every time we allow the demands of the life in the Spirit to penetrate our hearts, we will bear more fruit for the Kingdom of God – not because of our goodness, but because of the life of Christ in us.
Jakarta, 25 July 2014
A Christian Pilgrim