• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 28 July 2017 17:18

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

17th Sunday of the Year

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150As last Sunday, there are three parables in today’s gospel. The third one reminds us of the teaching in the first parable of last week’s Gospel – that there will be good and bad in the Kingdom of God – and in the Church. Jesus talks about those who go fishing. The nets cast out to bring in the fish are filled with many kinds of fish. Some are good to be cooked and eaten, some are too small to be useful, and some are positively dangerous to eat. And so the fisherman has to sort them out. Jesus in the parable talks about the sorting that will be done at the end of time by the angels/God. In the meantime, He is suggesting, we must get used to the idea that in the Kingdom of God – in the Church – there will be some disciples who are truly good and profitable servants, some who are fairly useless, and some who do positive damage. However, we are not the ones who have to do the sorting; we can leave that to God. My father used to tell us, as we were growing up: you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. Do not rush to judgment.

The first two parables are about a pearl of great price and a buried treasure. Jesus, the story-teller, first talks about the merchant who is an expert in assessing the value of pearls. During his shopping he finds a pearl that is truly extraordinary – worth a great deal of money. And so he sells the pearls he has which are valuable but not as valuable as the one he found so that he can buy the pearl of great price. Jesus then tells a story about a man who discovers some buried treasure in a field. He knows that he cannot claim the treasure unless he owns the field. And so he sells his belongings in order to purchase the field and in that way he is able to rightfully claim the hidden treasure. The Kingdom of Heaven, He says, is also as valuable as a pearl of great price or as a buried treasure, and so the disciple who would want to serve and enter into the Kingdom of God must discover its value and perhaps make some sacrifices to “purchase” it.

Pearl of great price 350When I was a novice with the Divine Word Missionaries I made a 30-day Retreat – the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The purpose of the days of prayer and hours of meditation was to lead us to value what it was to which God was calling us and to be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to choose to be a faithful disciple. We were invited to make a choice – to make a commitment. And we did. But as the years went on we realised that it was not a choice that is made just once but one that has to be repeated again and again. New pearls keep appearing – new treasures are found – and new choices in following Christ have to be made.

I learned a great deal about this from a couple in one of the first parishes in which I helped out. They had nine children. But they found something precious in their distinctive calls to serve God and the Church in their local parish. The woman, Pat, ran the program for mothers who were preparing to have their children baptised. She had a very special relationship with those mothers. She would never invite any of us priests to talk with them; she used to say: you don’t know what it means to be a mother. She had an on-going relationship with them even after the children were baptised. Often I would be out with her for shopping or lunch and we would invariably run into one of those women she had prepared, and they always stopped to talk with Pat. They knew she cared about them and therefore believed that God also loved and cared about them. This was the pearl of great price that Pat found.

Pat’s husband, Jim, was a very active member in the St Vincent De Paul Society. Often at a dinner or party he would get a phone call and then disappear. When I would ask him the next day what happened, he would just say: It was a Vinnie call. Some family would be in desperate need of something that could not wait until the next day, and so he was there – to bring food, to drive them somewhere, to help settle some children, to help with a flooded basement – whatever. True to the principles of the St Vincent de Paul Society, he never told me to whom he went – the needs of others were always kept confidential – but he was there to help. This was the hidden treasure in the field that Jim found.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now a canonised saint, also found her pearl of great price – it was to help the poor, especially those who were dying, no matter of what faith they were. This was her way to follow Christ and serve the Kingdom. She said often: we are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.
So too we are invited to recognise the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure that God puts before us and “purchase” it.