Daily Readings Reflection for 7/24/11

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Scripture: Lectionary # 110.  I Kings 3:5.7-12. Psalm 119:57.72.76-77.
127-128.129-130. Romans 8:28-30. Matthew 13:42-52

Sunday’s Readings

Our liturgists tell us that the first reading on a Sunday often helps in
our understanding the selection from the Gospel.  That certainly is the
case today.  The prayer of Solomon leads him to ask for understanding and
good judgment.  These are qualities religious congregations like to see in
incoming candidates who may have a religious vocation.  Solomon was then
graced by God with the gift of Wisdom in all of its dimensions, yet he
would make some bad decisions about the kingdom and certainly about his own
unbridled need for affection.  Let us however stay with the grace he
received for his inaugural prayer in becoming king and in desiring to build
the Temple in Jerusalem.  This was a special and blessed time in his life.
Wisdom was understood to be his gift in his many songs, decisions,
parables, proverbial sayings, and other genres characteristic of ancient
Near Eastern wisdom.  The Song of Songs and the Book of Wisdom were said to
be his even though they are not.  Even today we sometimes hear the
expression about a wise person: He or She has the ”’wisdom of Solomon.”

Jesus displays wisdom in his great discourses, his parables, and his
preaching and teaching.  Today we have three examples of the wisdom of
Jesus given in the three parables of the kingdom of heaven. We remember we
are in the third part of Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 13 which is a chapter on
the parables as expression of God’s wisdom for all in the plan of
salvation.  Jesus is the speaker and we are the disciples who are to learn
and understand what it means to ready ourselves for the kingdom of God
within ourselves and the kingdom of heaven which is to come at the end of
time. The parables are meant for us as disciples of Jesus to help us set
things right in our relationship with God.  We now focus on the last three
in this great thirteenth chapter of Matthew.

When we probe and meditate on these parables our spiritual life is deepened
just as Solomon’s prayer was rewarded with wisdom from God.  The comparison
Jesus makes with the scenes of the parables is with the “kingdom of
heaven.”  We discover the need to protect and revere the gifts of God as we
see in the imagery of the first parable.  We regard the wisdom of knowing
God’s will and plan as a pearl of great price. It is worth all of our
effort and talent to buy this pearl. We put it figuratively in our heart so
as to safeguard it and enjoy the beauty of the treasure.  We learn from the
last parable about the large net (dragnet) that pulls in quite a haul of
many fish (think of the 153 different types John mentions in chapter 21)
that the final judgment about who is pulled into the kingdom of God rests
upon the quality of the fish (the person).  Only those worthy of the
kingdom of heaven belong there. Thus there is an “eschatological” message
to the final parable of the great chapter on parables in Matthew (chapter
13).

We are to set our priorities in order: first, those things that lead us to
the kingdom of heaven are to be chosen above those that take us away from
it;  secondly, once we see the great value of the pearl of great price, we
leave all else aside and buy it.  And finally, we realize we have to live
up to the standards of those who will judge whether we are worthy of the
kingdom of heaven.

This past week we celebrated St. Lawrence of Brindisi, a Capuchin and
Doctor of the Church.  His words help us to appreciate the parables of
Jesus: “For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will.
It enables us to know God and to love God.”  Amen.

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