Sunday, July 26, 2020

The good, the bad, the valuable - Reflections on Sunday readings 7/26/20

Sunday Readings for July 26, 2020 from the USCCB

We all have that one thing that we sacrifice everything else for.  When we were younger it was that one toy, that video game, that bicycle, that we saved up all our allowance, maybe even would forgo some lunch meals to make sure we had enough money to buy it.  As we get older, we sacrifice time in order to work and reach our goals.  How valuable do you find the Kingdom of Heaven, and how do you intend to get there?

We have recently been thrown in a time where the material has become immaterial.  We have seen more value in the little things such as lunch with a friend, a handshake, a hug; the ability to walk outside without qualms.  Yet, in seeing the value of the human to human interactions that we've recently lost, we somehow have also become hostile, creating divisions that is even more apparent than they perhaps were before.  Differing ideals have blinded us, seeing one another through the lens of misguided truths, contorting our views of humanity.  Yet, as Christians, is this how we are called to act, to judge one another?  Where have we placed our values and how does that get us to the Kingdom?  What is it that we need to do as humans in order to reach eternal salvation?

In the first reading, God offers Solomon a chance to ask for anything he wishes.  Instead of asking for more riches he asks for one thing: an understanding heart.  What is more, understanding to distinguish right from wrong.  Notice, he didn't ask for the knowledge of what is good and bad.  Knowledge is becoming familiar with something, whereas understanding is actual comprehension.  It is not just looking at something for what it is at face value, but seeing the bigger picture.

In the second reading, St. Paul writes to the Romans about being called to the kingdom of Heaven.  For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.  This is not about the physical image of Jesus, but rather through His teachings and His example.  What is that example?  When we look back at the Responsorial Psalm, the refrain says: Lord, I love your commandments.  Jesus had summed up those commandments in John 13:34 Love one another as I have loved you.  Jesus, in His life and ministry, showed compassion and understanding.  He understood the nature of the humans, but also believed in the goodness God created in each of us.  He did not look at sinners for their previous actions, but judged them according to their repentant heart, allowing them to be forgiven, dining with them, allowing them to follow Him on His journey.  But we are given a choice.  Our omniscient and omnipotent God knows which one of us will choose that righteous path even before we were created.

Where do our choices lead?  That would depend on what you find to be valuable.  We as Christians believe in the Kingdom of Heaven, yet what are we going to sacrifice to get there? 
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.
Our ultimate goal is to get to Heaven, and it is more valuable than anything else we could possibly achieve in life.  But how do we get there?  By following Jesus' example.  When we see the goodness in God's creation, when we look at each other with understanding, when we act out of love for one another, we are acting according to the way God wanted us to be.  Jesus showed to look past human actions and see the human heart.  What do we gain in doing this?  The greatest treasure that God could have ever given His people: heaven.