Jesus Christ, the treasure to be discovered, loved and shared

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XVII Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A - Sunday 24.07.2011
Fr. Romeo Ballan

Jesus Christ, the treasure to be discovered, loved and shared

 

XVII Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A - Sunday 24.07.2011

 

1Kings  3:5.7-12

Psalm  118

Romans  8:28-30

Matthew  13:44-52

 

Reflections

There is always something exciting about the search for hidden treasure; and there is always something about a fine pearl that sets us dreaming... Hidden treasure, precious pearls (Gospel), come across by chance (gratis: by grace) – they remind us of Jesus’ words: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21). The thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel gathers seven of Jesus’ parables, and today we are invited to reflect on the last three of them: the hidden treasure (v. 44), the pearl of great value (v. 45-46) and the net (v. 47-48). The parables of the treasure and the pearl carry forward the movement of the earlier parables of the sower, the mustard seed and the leaven, while the story of the net reminds us of the parable of the weeds among the wheat. All seven images are ways Jesus chose to lead his disciples into a deeper understanding of the mysterious reality of God’s Reign, the Kingdom of heaven. All seven call for a choice: the disciple has to come down on one side or the other; and at the heart of this choice is Jesus himself, because he is the fullness of the Kingdom. He is the good seed, the Word the Father sows in the field of the world, which can transform that world from within, with all the hidden power of the mustard seed and the pinch of leaven. He is the hidden treasure and the precious pearl to be sought and preferred above all other things, making room for him and him only, so as to avoid the danger of being thrown away like weeds and bad fish (v. 48).

 

Of course, when Jesus speaks of treasure and pearls, he connects with the traditions of many peoples throughout the world, and with their legends about the passionate search for such riches. Even if we think only of the Gospel and the Christian tradition, we find that the Kingdom of heaven is a multi-layered reality: for Jesus the Kingdom is above all God himself, loved, enjoyed and proclaimed; the Kingdom is the beauty of divine grace, conforming us to the image of the Son (2nd reading); it is the Good News to be brought to the peoples who do not yet know Christ; it is loving faithfulness to family; it is vocation to the consecrated life; it is any plan to do some good; it is the wisdom of heart that Solomon begs and receives from God, a gift more important than long life, wealth or victory over enemies (1st reading)... For this highest of values, for Jesus Christ, the martyrs gave their lives, missionaries left their families and homes, Christians gave up very many things. (*) And all this with joy and determination! (v. 44).

 

In a word, we can say that the treasure is Christ, gift totally free; the fullness of the Kingdom is Jesus Christ himself, known, loved and proclaimed. Pope Paul VI expressed this in burning words when he delivered his missionary homily before two million people at Manila’s Quezon Circle on November 29, 1970: “‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!’ (1Cor. 9,16)… Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God… He is the Teacher of mankind, and its Redeemer. He is the centre of history and of the world; he is the one who knows us and who loves us; he is the companion and the friend of our life. He is the man of sorrows and of hope… I could never finish speaking about him: he is the light and the truth; indeed, he is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6). He is the bread and the spring of living water to satisfy our hunger and our thirst. He is our shepherd, our guide, our model, our comfort, our brother… To everyone I proclaim him: Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega; he is the king of the new world; he is the secret of history; he is the key to our destiny. He is the mediator, the bridge, between heaven and earth. He is the Son of Man, because he is the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the son of Mary… Remember this: Jesus Christ is our constant preaching; it is his name that we proclaim to the ends of the earth and throughout all ages” (cf. Liturgy of the Hours, II reading, Sunday XIII O.T.). Today too, Jesus Christ is the first message of missionary proclamation, because the greater part of the human family does not yet know him. Many more are needed to be his witnesses and to proclaim his name!

 

 

The Pope speaks

(*)  “Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life. Thus the way which the Apostles brought to the ends of the earth is life in Christ. This is the life of the Church. And the entrance to this life, to the Christian way, is Baptism… Dear friends, in your homes, schools and universities, in your places of work and recreation, remember that you are a new creation! As Christians you stand in this world knowing that God has a human face - Jesus Christ - the way who satisfies all human yearning, and the life to which we are called to bear witness, walking always in his light. The task of witness is not easy”.

Benedict XVI

Opening of World Youth Day, Sydney, July 17, 2008

 

In the missionaries’ footsteps

- 24/7: St. Sarbel (Joseph) Makhluf (1828-1898), Maronite monk from Lebanon, later a hermit given to prayer and austere deprivations.

-24/7: Remembrance of Fr Ezekiele Ramin, Italian Comboni Missionary, killed aged 32 (+1985) at Cacoal (Rondonia-Brazil), as a consequence of his solidarity with farmers who were struggling to have their land-rights recognised.

-25/7: St James, apostle, son of Zebedee, brother of John; he was the first of the apostles to be martyred (+43-44); patron of Spain.

-25/7: Blessed Radolfo Aquaviva and his four companions, Jesuits martyred at Salsete in India in 1583.

-26/7: Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus: they are the patrons of grandparents and the elderly.

- 26/7: St. Bartolomea Capitanio (+1833) who, together with St. Vincentia Gerosa (+1847), founded the Sisters of Charity of Mary.

-26/7: St. Giorgio Preca (La Valletta, Malta, 1880-1962), priest committed to the catechesis of children, founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine.

-26/7: Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881-1942), Dutch Carmelite priest, courageous defender of the Church and of human dignity, killed in Dachau concentration camp (Germany).

-27/7: St. Clement of Ochrida (c. 840-916), evangelizer of Bulgaria. With him we remember a further four holy bishops who carried forward in Bulgaria the evangelising and cultural work of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

-28/7: St. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception (Anna) Muttathupadathu (1910-1946), born in Kerala (India), a nun of the Malabarese Poor Clares. She is the first Indian saint.

-29/7: St. Olaf (+1030), king of Norway, promoter of the Christian faith and organiser of the Church in his country; he died in battle.

-30/7: St Leopold Mandic (1866-1942), Croatian Capuchin, who worked for the unity of Christians and was an assiduous minister of the sacrament of reconciliation in Padua, Italy.

- 30/7: St. Maria of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament Venegas de la Torre (Mexico, 1868-1959), foundress, totally dedicated to the care of the sick.

- 30/7: Bl. Maria Vincenza Chávez Orozco (Mexico, 1867-1949), foundress, dedicated to the service of the poor.

 

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Compiled by Fr. Romeo Ballan, MCCJ - Comboni Missionaries (Verona)

Translated by Fr. David Glenday MCCJ

Website:  www.euntes.net  “The Word for Mission”

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