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  • Writer's pictureFr. Paul MacNeil

Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Gunther - July 30th, 2023

There is a story about an elderly lady in Scotland who was so poor that the community had to support her even though her son had moved to Canada and had become very wealthy. “Why doesn’t he help his mother?” … the neighbours often asked each other. One day a neighbour dropped in and suggested that her son surely would help her if he knew of her need. Very Mother-like, she defended her son. “Oh, he is so thoughtful, but he needs all his money. He’s a good boy. See, he writes to me every week the nicest letters. And in every letter, he sends a picture. They are strange pictures.” “Did you save them?” asked the neighbour. “Oh sure,” replied the mother as she reached for her Bible. I put all the pictures in the Good Book. Hidden between the pages of the Bible the visitor found hundreds of colourful Canadian dollar bills. More than enough to keep the old mother in comfort.

She had a treasure … but did not know it.

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus telling us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a hidden treasure which a man found in a field. We have to remember that burying your money was a fairly common practice for safekeeping in the ancient world. Finding this treasure, the man sold all he had and bought that field so that he now owned the treasure.

But the treasure Jesus is talking about is our faith which makes us members of the kingdom of heaven. The treasure is our faith in a loving Christ. Our belief is that He is both God and Man. That He saved us by dying on the cross. That He will take us into heaven if we are faithful to Him.

Like the unknowing mother in our story, many of us do not realize what treasures we have like the treasure of God’s love and the treasure in the words of Christ.

Jesus continues to teach his disciples and us about the Kingdom of God by using parables and images. I mean who among us wouldn’t want to find a great treasure or win the lottery? By using these images Jesus provides a glimpse of what the Kingdom will be, when we discover the treasures of the Kingdom while here on earth, it brings us much joy.

But just discovering it is not enough. There is a cost to obtaining this treasure. We need to pay the price. Jesus asks his disciples, “Have you understood all this?” They answered “Yes”. But … what would we answer? Are we ready for the discovery of the Kingdom? More importantly once we have found it what are we willing to sell or give up to obtain the precious gift? The gift of being a disciple of God’s Kingdom.

Real treasure is that which has eternal value. Treasure like having loving relationships. We will carry our relationships with God and with our loved ones into the Kingdom with us. We invest in the Kingdom by spending quality time with the people we hope to be with eventually in Heaven. Starting with God. Quality time with God means participating in Masswhen able and spending time in personal prayer and being charitable to those less fortunate. The more we realize the love of God for us the more we find the secret treasures of peace and joy.

We need to spend time with people we want to continue to have lasting relationships with. Our spouse our children our parents all our loved ones. This of course may require sacrifices. Perhaps giving up other things that take up our time. Like the man in the field and the merchant we have to give up something to buy something greater. We can trade earthly possessions for heavenly treasures.

Notice that when praying the Our Father we ask for God’s Kingdom to be “on earth as it is in heaven.” The earthly Kingdom includes us providing things like food for the hungry shelter for the homeless visiting the sick and imprisoned. It includes loving others by giving generously to our Annual Parish Mission Appeal. It includes forgiving offences and spreading the Good News to those who need it.

Through our baptism we became children of God thereby inheriting the opportunity of reaching God’s kingdom of heaven. It has been made possible for us to reach heaven because Christ bought it for us at the price of his own blood on the cross. At this Eucharist we will celebrate and share in Christ’s sacrifice. We will thank God for giving us a chance to inherit heaven.

Some people want to be with God in heaven so much that they do extreme things to make sure they get there. Like St. Francis of Assisi a young man who belonged to a wealthy family. One day he decided to live for God alone. He gave away all he owned. He spent the rest of his life wearing a robe of a peasant and begging for what he needed. He believed that God was calling him to become holy in this way.

That extreme conversion may not be everyone’s calling. But God may be calling us to become good mothers and fathers by raising children who know and love God. God may be calling us to lovingly treat others like Jesus treated others. God may be calling us to serve in the Church perhaps we have a calling to be a priest or deacon or religious sister or brother or a lay minister. The ultimate goal of the Gospel message is that all our lives are meant to play a part in the Kingdom of Heaven.

During our Mass today we offer to God the gifts and the bread and water and wine. Which is normally brought up by our parishioners to show that it comes from all of us. Through our priest Fr. Paul God turns that bread and water and wine into the Body and Blood of his Son. And then presents Christ to us in Holy Communion. Our gifts are such a small price for such a great treasure.

May Christ help all of us to renew our faith. To strengthen our determination to live out our faith in him.

At any cost!

May God Bless you.

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