17th Sunday in OT A

Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven

Joke: Three men died and went to heaven, upon their arrival, St. Peter asked the first one if he had been faithful to his wife. The man admitted to having two affairs during his marriage. St. Peter told him that he could receive only a compact car to drive in heaven. The second man came, St. Peter asked him the same question. The man admitted to having had only one affair in his entire marriage life on earth. St. Peter was a little more impressed with him than the first man and gave him a mid-sized car to drive in heaven. The third man came, and with the same question, the man admitted that he had no affairs from the day of his marriage to the day of his death. St. Peter was very impressed and gave him a luxury car to drive in heaven. A week later, three men were driving around, and they stopped at the red light. The men in the compact and the mid-size cars turned to see the man in the luxury car crying, and they asked, “What’s the matter?” The man said, “I just passed my wife, and she was on a skateboard.”

In all of today’s readings, especially in today’s Gospel, the Church helps us focus on ourselves, to fix our eyes, to conform our lives on what the kingdom of heaven is like and how to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Parable after parable, Jesus used them in order to open up people’s minds and hearts, and in today’s Gospel, he used three more parables to portray the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure or a merchant or even a net. When someone finds the treasure, he will sell everything he has to buy that treasure. The kingdom of heaven is also like a merchant looking for a pearl of great price, when he finds it, he also sells everything he has to buy it. The kingdom of heaven is also like a net that catches fish of every kind, and they only keep good fish, bad fish they throw away.

In today’s Gospel, Matthew describes the actions of the person with some vivid active acts saying that when the merchant “finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that treasure.” In order to buy that treasure or that pearl or to inherit the kingdom of heaven, one is invited to sell everything he or she has, or rather to detach the worldly things, the pleasures of the flesh, the possession of this world, the harbor of hatred and anger towards others, and to have an understanding heart in following the Lord Jesus and his bride, the Church in order to possess or to inherit the kingdom of God. When we conform ourselves to God’s will, to have that heart of understanding, it is then we find the kingdom of heaven. The question is: Do we have to wait to die in order to experience the kingdom of heaven? Or can we experience the kingdom of heaven right now, right here, while we are still alive? What does it mean when Jesus invites us to, “Go and sell all that you have and buy that kingdom of heaven?” It seems that if we sell everything we have, we might not experience the kingdom of heaven but rather the experience of being homeless. Maybe we need to ask ourselves, is there anything at all in this life that is so attached to us that we have difficulty to detach from when we approach God in our prayer or when we come to partake in the Eucharistic celebration? Any worldly anxieties and stress that might constantly distracted us to focus in our prayers and in celebrating the Holy Eucharist. When we unite with the Lord in prayers and the celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, we are at peace, and we are in heaven because there is no anxiety and no stress when we are at peace. How can we detach from what is so attached to us so to inherit the kingdom of heaven or to find peace in ourselves? What does it mean to sell everything to buy that treasure or that pearl as it is the kingdom of heaven?

The third parable in today’s Gospel that Jesus portrays “the kingdom of heaven is like the net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” What is the sea, the fish, and the net that Jesus mentions in this parable? And who threw that net? The sea is this universe in which we all live and in which it has both the good and the bad people together. The good and the bad people are like good fish and bad fish. The net is the heavenly host of Angels. The time to throw the net is in the power of God alone that no one knows when. One thing we know from this parable is that the kingdom of heaven is like the net, and we don’t know when the net will be thrown out. Once again, have we been able to experience the kingdom of heaven here on earth while we are still alive? Or do we have to die first in order to experience the kingdom of heaven?

Perhaps, to answer these questions, we need to come to the Lord and ask for wisdom to understand just like Solomon who did not ask for money, for power, nor anything else but wisdom to be able to distinguish right from wrong described in today’s first reading. “Give your servant,” Solomon said, “therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” What is wisdom if it’s not the understanding heart, nor the understanding mind? Our human being that God beautifully created with mind and heart that they do not sync with each other in communication if we don’t train them. Our mind, for example, tells us to do something—well, watching the inappropriate materials online is ok, plus it enhances our marriage relationship; while our heart, on the other hand, doesn’t feel right, but often, we follow the language of the mind rather than to follow the language of the heart to take control of. In the parable of last weekend that talked about the sower and the seeds, Jesus invites us to allow the word of God to take root in our heart, not in our mind alone, and in today’s parable, we are invited to have the understanding heart. On our Christian journey, what do we usually follow—the language of the mind or the language of the heart? How can we sync that two languages to have a mutual understanding of each other? If the Lord throws the net on us today to call us home, are we ready? Are we good fish or bad fish? What must we do to get ourselves ready for that day to come? The decision is yours.

 

Weekend Written Homilies 2020

Weekend Written Homilies 2020


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