For Sunday, July 26, 2020 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
The Gospels contain many stories regarding Jesus’ teaching on the coming kingdom of heaven. Catholics are called daily to pursue the building of the kingdom of heaven in our hearts first, our family second and then the community. On this Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, in our Gospel passage from Matthew, Jesus employed three parables to describe this kingdom.
In the first parable, we are reminded that living for Jesus and for His kingdom will be costly. But the deep joy that comes in following Him makes the “price” entailed worth it. Jesus said, “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.” Next, He says 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 he has and buys it.”
In each of these stories, the kingdom of heaven is somewhat “hidden.” We must intentionally search for it amidst the noise of the world that bombards us. Yet, our Lord reminds us that His Kingdom is meant for everyone and He wants us to find it! He says, “It is like a net thrown into the sea which collects fish of every kind.”
But Jesus concludes His teaching with a rather ominous image, reminding us that every “fish” will also be judged as good or bad. “The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.” This is a description that is difficult to forget. Clearly Jesus wants to get our attention.
Let us pray for the wisdom to recognize the kingdom of heaven in our midst and intensify our efforts to pursue it, starting right now. May we have the courage and fortitude to embrace the daily pursuit of the kingdom in our own lives. There is no time to lose, and we will obtain the immeasurable joy that only comes when we live as Jesus’ missionary disciples.