Below is my homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at the 4:30 PM parish mass.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
The Gospel of the Lord
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
In our first reading today, King Solomon is presented by God an offer that he can’t refuse. God offers anything that Solomon wants and he will give it to him. Solomon could have asked for riches, or a good life, or anything that he could imagine.
But what did Solomon ask for?
It seems to me that he was already wise. Even in his youth, he knew what would lead him to the greatest of successes. He knew that riches would not bring him happiness, nor would a long life. Rather he knew that being a just and wise man would bring him great consolation.
Wisdom, though, is much more than knowledge. For instance, let us remember the man in the story above. He saw something precious, something that could make him rich. He jumped at the opportunity to take this item.
Yet he comes back, looking for something more.
This woman, so generous, so willing to give, gives what is precious to her. What is it that allowed her to give away something so precious without hesitation?
It is that something more that the man returns looking for. That there is the Wisdom of God.
We are searching, searching, still looking for something more, something greater, something beyond ourselves.
What we are looking for can only come from one place, and that is the Wisdom of God.
Wisdom is defined as having right judgement, soundness in action or decision. This is what we are all looking for in life. A good life comes from peace and joy, and that can be found in the wisdom that we receive from God. All we have to do is ask God for this wisdom. And He will give it to us!
So many are looking for something, yet they don’t know what they are looking for. They seek great fame, great wealth, looking for something. They seek great friends and great fun, yet still, looking for something, something more. Something that nothing here on Earth could fill.
We all are seeking this: acceptance. Acceptance for who we are, for what we want, for our lives. In acceptance comes love, in love comes peace, in peace: joy, in joy: wisdom. We seek to be accepted for who we are in a society that tells us acceptance means forcing what we want on others. That’s not acceptance.
Acceptance is not allowing ourselves to be complacent with who we are. In fact, that leads to laziness, not love! Acceptance, which is what God gives us, is knowing that we are loved, that we are so precious! Acceptance is knowing that we are supported by others, but most importantly God, to continue to grow in self-understanding, and in His Will for our lives.
If acceptance comes in love, then what is it that we are looking for? We are seeking to be loved unconditionally. We are seeking to be loved without limits, without prejudice, without any reservations. That is how God loves us.
In that loves comes peace, for we know that we are the beloved child of God. We are accepted for who we are by God. He loves every part of us, even the parts that we don’t like about ourselves. And in that love and acceptance, we find the peace that our heart longs for.
In that peace, we are opened to learning about God and His Wisdom. In that peace, we find Jesus Christ coming to us, giving us the wisdom that sets us apart from every other person, making us special, one of a kind. God wants to give this wisdom to us! All we have to do is ask!
Let us be like the man in the story today, returning to God who gives us everything we want. Yet let us be open to returning everything that God has given us so as to receive more, to receive His Wisdom through His Peace, His Love, and most importantly, His total and complete acceptance for who we are, knowing that this is not the end, but rather the beginning.