The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 27th July, 2014

The parables that we have before us today are really about two things. On the one hand, they are about the Kingdom of God, the pearl of great price; and, on the other hand, they are about what the attitude of the disciple should be when offered the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is the greatest good which is worth more than everything else. The disciple, when offered the possibility of attaining the kingdom, must direct all their energies towards the attaining of the kingdom. 

A simple message, the kingdom is the greatest and is therefore worthy of the greatest effort. A message that is repeated many times in the New Testament: seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be given to you; where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, and so on. 

And then, after the parables, we get two important additions. We get two short commentaries on these kingdom parables that give them a sort of spin. First we are told about the fishermen who separate the good fish from those that are no use. Then we hear about the householder who brings out from the storeroom things that are both new and old. In the first example we are told about something being discarded; while in the second example we are told about everything being kept – and both examples have to do with the kingdom of God.

The fish do not choose to be wound up in the net, they are caught; what is brought from the storeroom is decided by the householder, not by the items themselves. There is a very clear message here – God decides who will be part of the kingdom; God is the one who calls those whom we might consider to be good or bad, suitable or unsuitable – it is always God’s call. 

And just like the wheat and the darnel from last week, we are all a mixture of good and bad, suitable and unsuitable – and we are still all called by God.

I think today’s first reading might be helpful here. In this reading from the first Book of the Kings we see the young Solomon being offered whatever he wants by God. Solomon, already wise, obviously, chooses wisely and asks for the gift of discernment – to know the difference between good and evil. 

If you remember your Bible you will remember that the tree that Adam and Eve gave in to temptation over, was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree is really a symbol of what is proper to God. Only God, in other words, is the one who can truly read our hearts and know what they are like. The sin of Adam and Eve wasn’t about the eating of the fruit, it was about trying to be God, about claiming for themselves what was proper to God – specifically, the judgment of what is good and evil, of who is good and evil.

These parables are reminders to us that the kingdom is the greatest good we could ever desire. They are also reminders to us that God is the one, the only one, who will decide who will form part of that kingdom. As the readings over the past two weeks have reminded us – the sower, and the wheat and the darnel – we are, all of us, a mixture of kingdom material and of stuff that doesn’t belong in the kingdom. We have also been reminded that that mixture of good and bad doesn’t matter to God. God continues to want us, to love us, to call us. 
What is asked of us, as disciples, is that we try to keep our eyes fixed on the kingdom and, no matter what may happen in our lives, no matter how we might stumble on the path, that we keep going, knowing that God continues to call us and to value us even though we don’t always get things right.


Article posted on 26th of July 2014

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