Sunday, July 27, 2014

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Solomon is a young man who has just been given a great responsibility: he has been made king.  In the first reading today from 1 Kings we see Solomon true self.  He is truly seeking to be a king who loves and cares for his people.  When asked what we would like from God, he doesn’t ask for anything for his own gain. He asks for an understanding heart. As a result, God praises him for seeking wisdom and not power or riches. His request is the fruit of a heart focused outside of himself. It comes from a place of great humility.

Think of what our world would be like if more people sought to understand than to gain things for themselves. To seek to understand is a humble act because it puts one in the position of admitting that they may not have the answer to a particular situation.  An understanding heart leads one to listen to another and then respond.  An understanding heart is very important for the life of a Christian because while we are in the process of conversion, we are also missionaries of the gospel.  To most effectively share the gospel, we need to listen to others.  What are their concerns, their fears, their source of happiness? What is it that they desire? What is there understanding of the way things are?  This allows the gospel to be shared in a way that is best understood by them.  We don’t change the gospel message, we adapt how it is delivered. 

Throughout the gospels we hear Jesus doing just that.  He uses parables, stories and real life occurrences as a means to introduce a teaching to his followers.  It then encouraged those hearing the teacher to think, to realize the relevance of God’s message to them in their lived experience and helped them to strive for something greater than what they could attain on their own or what the world could offer them.

The parables in today’s Gospel also challenge us to realize just how important what God has to offer us is.  Do we desire the kingdom of heaven? Do we desire God?

Faith tells us that Truth in its fullness is found in God.  It tells us that Love is found in its perfection with God. It tells us that lasting hope and joy come when we live in union with Him.

St. Paul understands that love is a critical characteristic of the Christian.  The one who claims to be a follower of Christ desires and loves God above all else which results in an ever growing love of neighbor.  In addition, the one who loves God is meant not just to be a person that reminds others about Jesus, but is to be “conformed” to Christ, that is to be Christ to others.

A few weeks ago we celebrated that Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  We celebrated God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a community of Persons in union as one being, united in a perfect bond of love.  We, made in the image and likeness of God, are meant to live in participation of this divine life.  How do we do that? Love.

Love leads us to look outside of ourselves. It opens our hearts and minds to something greater than ourselves.  Love unites us to God himself and allows us to look upon the world with the eyes of faith, to see how we can put love in service to others.  Through such service, we invite others to experience the same love, to come to know God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and join us on the journey to that God.

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