17TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
Well here we are at the last weekend of July and the summer holidays are now at the half way stage for our local children. I’m sure there are many parents out there wondering when will the long holidays end but that said it will be no time until the beginning of the new school term in September. Despite all of our own worries and preoccupations we see the ongoing war with the Israelis and the Palestinians and the war between Russia and Ukraine. Not forgetting the ongoing Syrian conflict. Whilst many people will debate the rights and the wrongs of what is going on we have to remember that we have to constantly pray for peace. last Sunday 20th July, Pope Francis called on all the faithful to pray for Christians fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, and to “persevere in prayer for those situations of tension and conflict that continue in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in the Ukraine” The only way that anything positive will happen in all of this will be when the opposing sides of the conflicts sit down face to face and talk. Our experience of the past 20 years in Northern Ireland certainly bears this out. We have an imperfect peace process but after a long time we have seen opposing sides talking with a view of trying to sort the problems out and it continues to be a work in progress.
This week we also stop to pray for all those who perished in the downing of the plane over Ukraine. We pray in a special way for the families of those who died from so many different countries that they may find peace of heart and mind and that their loved ones will rest in peace.
In this Sundays Gospel we hear the story of the treasure hidden in the field. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price. When its great value is recognized, one gladly does all that is necessary to obtain it. The kingdom of heaven is also like a net that collects all sorts of fish. Just as the useless fish are eventually thrown away, at the end of the age the wicked will be rejected. To possess the Kingdom means to share our knowledge of it with others. To truly believe in Christ means leading other people to the same knowledge; for secret faith is no faith at all. We need to be like the householder, mentioned at the end of our Gospel reading for this Sunday, who brings out of his house things both new and old. We should be happy to bring out of the house that is our life all kinds of treasures to share with our neighbours.
But these treasures are not physical things like clocks and pearls but attitudes spiritual and otherwise that is virtues like love and justice and truth and hope and so on. What we bring out from our treasure store are the values of the Kingdom, the attitudes of Jesus and the knowledge of the one true God. God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us that way. He wants us to become just like Him. He wants us to become treasure for other people so that they can discover the faith which is the pearl of great price the treasure hidden in the fields of our hearts.