Today’s reflection is for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 26, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
Last week we heard about a wise landowner that said to his workers, “Don’t pull up the weeds, you’ll wreck the wheat! Let them grow together and we’ll separate them later.” In today’s Gospel we hear about a net full of fish that is separated when brought to shore. Sacred Scripture, the Church, and Jesus himself, are very clear, there is Heaven, there is Hell, and there will be Judgement—eternal separation. We said it during the Creed right after the homily, “He will come again in glory to Judge the living and the dead.” Do you believe it? We better.
The church is very clear about this, “God predestines NO ONE to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God is necessary, and persistence in it, until the end.” (C.C.C. 1037) God doesn’t want anyone of his children to be separated from Him for all eternity. That’s why he sent us Jesus! “God so loved the world that he gave his only so that all who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life.” (JN 3:16). But we have to want it. We have to want Him. More than anything else, we have to want God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
We have to be like that guy in the Gospel today, who found a treasure buried in a field, or like that merchant who found an amazing pearl. They both made getting that treasure the only thing that mattered in their life; their number one priority…and they got it. They found both peace and joy. And so can we.
Solomon was given one wish from God. “Ask for anything you want,” God says, “and it’s yours!” If you had but one wish from God, what would it be? Just for a moment, think about that, if you could ask anything of God, really, what would you ask for? Fame? Fortune? Health? A mansion? Salvation for you and your family? No more credit card debt? I might or might not ask for a lifetime supply of sunflower seeds…
But honestly, would you even think to ask for wisdom, like Solomon, so you could make good decisions to govern yourself and your household wisely; to govern your community or the Church wisely? Wisdom matters. St. Aquinas taught, “Among all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy.” The truth is, with Wisdom, you get everything else you’ve ever wanted, or you might realize that what you’ve always wanted was the last thing you need…like a lifetime supply of sunflower seeds.
Well, have no fear—for all of us who think ourselves wisdom deficient, know this, we’ve already got it in spades! That’s right, the only thing that Solomon wanted, we’ve already been given, and six other gifts of the Spirit as well! Remember the seven gifts of the Spirit that we received at Baptism and were strengthened at Confirmation? Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, Council, Fortitude, Fear of the Lord, and Piety.
The gifts of the Spirit sustain us in our moral life. They help us choose the good in the concrete, real situations of life. The gift of wisdom makes us able to see the value of the pearl, to find the treasure, and the discipline to sell everything else to get it. The Church teaches that these gifts of the Spirit are permanent, and open us up to following the prompting of the Holy Spirit (C.C.C. 1830) that calls us to both desire and to do the good.
Judgement will happen, but fear not, we have all the help we need to stand tall in the end. The only question is will we be wise enough, in this life, to know God’s will, wise enough to choose it, and strong enough to do it?
For YouTube video presentations of this and other reflections, please click here.