What are we doing to find the ‘path of life’ and walk it forever?
By Sharon Priester
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/July 30
1 Kings 3:5,7-12; Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-128,129-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
For years, my husband and I, especially when we have gone to somewhere in the country that is new to us, visited and explored the local parks or areas. While at the park, we were able to learn more about the town. For example, in this little town in Texas that we visit, there are many paths and/or trails in the local park. One led us to the top of a hill where we could easily see the entire town, as well as the surrounding areas for miles in every direction.
We learned that this hill was a special place for the community. Right in front of us stood a huge cross. It was so big that when our 6-foot-3-inch grandson stood by the cross, he looked very small. People of the community chose this place for the cross so that anyone passing through the town knows it is a Christian community and they are welcome. Several churches could be seen at the base of the hill, as well as in the distance, all very willing to welcome newcomers who took the path to their church.
As you probably know, in a person’s lifetime there are many paths to be explored. Sometimes a person is unsure of where they might be led, like we were when we took the path up the hill. Many of the new paths that a person encounters may lead them to a new job, a new community, or new friends.
SEEKS “UNDERSTANDING HEART”
In this Sunday’s passage from 1 Kings, God appears to King Solomon in a dream. The king, who had just begun his life of ruling the people, was unsure if he could really govern. He asked God to give him an “understanding heart,” so that he would be able to judge people fairly, and to be able to understand “right from wrong.” No matter what, he was willing to follow God’s path for him and do whatever was necessary.
Hearing Solomon’s plea, God was pleased with him and gave him a wise and “understanding heart,” something no one else before him or after had been or would be given.
The second reading begins with Paul assuring the people that they are on the right path, a path chosen for them by God. He reminds them and us, that “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
They have been called to attend to God with an open heart. He doesn’t doubt that they will be able to share their faith and love with others.
In the Gospel, Jesus uses another parable to illustrate something very familiar. Recall that a parable is defined as a fictitious story illustrating a moral attitude or religious principle.
In describing the kingdom of heaven to his disciples, he compares it to a “treasure” in a field. If a person has a treasure in a field, he would go out, sell all that he had and buy that field. If a merchant is looking for a fine pearl and finds one, he will sell all that he has to buy that pearl to bring it back to his kingdom.
WHAT IS IN OUR NETS?
The last comparison Jesus uses is that of a fisherman. Recall, the disciples were fishermen.
Unlike the person who had the field and the merchant, the fisherman would go out in his boat and throw out his nets to collect as many fish as possible. Once he got to shore, the fish would be sorted out — those that were good went into a bucket; those that were bad were thrown back into the sea. Only the good survived.
What about each of us? Is it our desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Are we willing to do whatever is necessary to find the “path of life” and walk it forever? To follow the Commandments, to spend more time with God in prayer, to attend Mass — not only on Sunday and on holy days, but how about daily?
We are also called to help feed the hungry, clothe the naked, spend more time with family or friends, especially those in most need of our help.
Solomon asked God to give him an “understanding heart” so that he would be able to judge people fairly and distinguish “right from wrong.” So can we.
SHARON PRIESTER has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.