Sunday, 30 July 2017 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures which called us all to reflect on our lives, and one important question that all of us must ask ourselves, that is 'what is it that is most precious to us?' This is something that many of us ignored or refused to reflect on, but it is actually something that we need to do, so that we can know how we ought to proceed on with life from now on.

In the first reading today, all of us heard the prayer of King Solomon of Israel, son and successor of the famous King David. In his young age and inexperience, King Solomon prayed to God asking for a favour, that He might grant him wisdom, the wisdom to discern what is good from what is evil, the wisdom to make the right decision and judgment. He did not ask for wealth, power, influence or worldly fame; which are all the things that we normally would have desired.

He sought for a greater treasure, one that is far surpassing the treasures of this world. For there is no greater treasure in this world than the treasure of the wisdom and knowledge of God. There can be no greater gift than the gift of the love of God, for His love is eternal and to come to the presence of God is what all of us should be aiming for. His grace and inheritance is everlasting while the goods and glories of this world are fleeting and merely temporary.

This is what the Lord Jesus in our Gospel reading today told His disciples, and which we have heard as well. He spoke about the kingdom of heaven, using a parable, as a way to convey the message of His truth to the people, many of whom at the time were farmers, fishermen, merchants and shepherds. He spoke to them of the kingdom of God as represented by a very valuable treasure hidden in a field, as a pearl of great and exceptional value, and as a great and big fishing net spread out, catching numerous fish of all kinds and sizes.

Through those parables, God wanted to reveal to His people, what a great treasure that they had coming upon them, which He had given them through none other by the revelation of His love through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus did not only come into this world in order to reveal the truth of God to mankind, but He also came to bring all mankind closer to God, to be their Saviour and Redeemer, liberating them from the chains of their sins.

If we reflect deeply on the history of man, and how we mankind ended up living in this world today, we will realise that how mankind had chosen what is lesser in value in terms of the treasures we seek, and threw away the greater treasure that we have once had in the Lord. Our ancestors were created by God and were destined for an eternity of happiness, enjoying the goodness and the fruits of the earth in Eden, in perfect harmony with God. We were intended to enjoy forever a life of true joy and bliss.

However, the devil, Satan, our great enemy, came to tempt us through persuasions, sweet talks and lies, by which he managed to turn the hearts of mankind away from God, beginning from the time of Adam and Eve, when they chose to submit to the temptations of Satan who offered them the knowledge over good and evil, by eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge.

Satan was using our humanity's natural curiosity and the desires in our hearts to trick and to tempt us into sin. We are curious to know more, and we desire to have more, and this is part of our humanity. And as Satan used this opportunity to strike at us, it is indeed important for all of us to look up into what each and every one of us value in life, and what we think of as our priorities in this life.

Many of us are often too preoccupied with our work, with our career and our businesses. Many of us work many hours, often at the expense of our relationships with our loved ones, with our families and friends, because we want to accumulate for ourselves more money, more possessions and wealth, as we want to live a more comfortable or even luxurious life. And it does not help us that we live in a world inundated with so many worldly temptations, and with so many commercial materialism.

We often judge and think of others based on their possessions and wealth, or based on their status or influence in the society. We labour hard, hours after hours seeking for more of these, wealth or fame, renown or praise from others. But we have to realise that whatever it is that we have received and gained, it is unlikely that we will be satisfied with whatever we have. It is our human weakness that we are easily tempted to want and to desire for even more of what we have gained.

It is the greed in our heart that cause us to desire for more, and never be satisfied by all the goods and the blessings that we have received. The saying is indeed true that power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts everything. The more it is that we have, in power, wealth and fame, the more that they may corrupt our minds and our hearts, and twist us into committing sin against God and mankind alike.

That is why many kings and rulers of the world, while some were good and just, but many others were wicked and tyrannical in their rule. They oppressed the people and their subjects, levying high taxes on them, and demanding unjust exactions and pressures on them, in order to advance their own interests, to make themselves be more wealthy and powerful, and gain greater esteem and influence among their fellow rulers and kings.

This applies to others as well, because even in little things, we often get into feud and rivalries, conflicts and troubles as we are incapable of letting go of our desires. When our desires and wants come into conflict with each other, we end up in dispute and even infighting among ourselves, and such were the reasons for wars and atrocities that happened in the history of this world. And we will never be happy or be satisfied, for as I mentioned, when we have more, we will want even more.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, the same question that I have placed at the very beginning of this discourse, 'What is it that is most precious to us?' or if I rephrase it, 'what is our priority in life?'. Let us ask ourselves what it is that we live for, that whether it is to accrue for ourselves the wealth and treasures of this world? Remember, the Lord Himself said that if we gather up these treasures of the world, all would end up with nothing.

After all, it does not matter how much wealth we obtain, how great a fame and position that we have attained, how far in life we have gone, nothing of these we will carry with us to the life that is to come. We may have attained the wealth and capability to purchase and own the biggest houses, the most luxurious lifestyle and all, but in the end, when we face the Lord in judgment, none of this will be able to help us, less still if we commit vile and wicked deeds in order to attain and gain all those possessions we have.

What King Solomon had done, in asking God for true wisdom in his prayers is something that we all should also do, instead of asking for more power, more wealth, more affluence or fame. As King Solomon has resisted the temptation for all those worldly desires, all of us should do the same as well. Instead, let us all as Christians seek to become ever closer to God, and indeed pray for the wisdom to understand God's will, that He will show us the way forward in how we should live a life faithful to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all not be swayed by the lies and the falsehoods spread by the devil, who is always constantly trying to lure us away from God and to trap us in his insidious traps. Let us strive to do what is right and just in life, turning away from sin and by dying to our pride and selfishness. Let us be humble in life, and instead of seeking personal enrichment and satisfaction, let us be focused on obeying the will of God and be righteous in all that we do. Seek not what can be destroyed by human means, but seek the eternal treasure found in God alone.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters? We begin from ourselves and from those who are around us. Through our little actions and deeds in life, by showing love, care and concern for others, and by sincerely sharing the love and the blessings we receive, especially with those who have little or none, with those who are suffering and those who have no one to love them, we have done what God wants us to do.

Spend our time to do what is beneficial to everyone rather than being too busy with ourselves, with our work or with our businesses. And the Lord Who knows all of our actions and deeds, will give us His everlasting treasure, the eternal glory of heaven. We shall not want again, and we shall be God's people forever. Amen.

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