A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 35)
17h Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – July 24, 2005
“He Sells All That He Has and Buys It”
I Kgs 3:5, 7-12 // Rom 8:28-30 // Mt 13:44-52
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
Today we continue to listen to Jesus’ Discourse in parables. In the parables of the treasure in the field and of the precious pearl (Mt 13:44-46) and in the parable of the dragnet (Mt 13: 47-50), he continues to teach us the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The twin parables of the treasure in the field and of the precious pearl underline the absolute, incomparable values of God’s kingdom, the joy that it brings, the total commitment that it deserves and the overriding zeal with which it must be pursued.
Edward Armstrong, an Anglican writer, comments: “The parable of the peerless pearl is twin to the hidden treasure, and the two may have been told together; for parallelism is a characteristic of Hebrew style … The discoverer of the treasure trove was a comparatively poor man who chanced on the money; the pearl merchant was relatively wealthy; he came on the pearl in the course of business and sold his whole stock to acquire it. One man enters into the joy of the kingdom unexpectedly, another attains it through the maturing of a lifetime’s endeavor.” The remarkable response of the treasure finder and the pearl merchant was decisive, total and absolute. Indeed, the kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond price and demands renunciation and sacrifice in order to acquire it.
The Church Father, Origen (183-253) from the catechetical school of Alexandria, asserts that Christ is the precious pearl we must seek – the one pearl of great price: “To the seeker after fine pearls may be applied the words, Seek and you will find, and, Everyone who seeks will find. If you ask what is to be sought, and what will be found by everyone who seeks for it, I say with all confidence: pearls – especially that pearl which will be acquired by those who give their all, who sacrifice everything for it, the pearl Paul meant when he said: I have accepted the loss of everything in order to gain Christ. Everything means beautiful pearls; to gain Christ refers to the one pearl of great price.”
The parable of the fishing net thrown into the sea reminds us that the coming of God’s kingdom includes a final judgment in which the good and the bad will be separated definitively and receive their fitting rewards and punishment. This parable continues to remind us of the presence of both good and evil in the Church and in the world and seeks to instill in us patience and tolerance and the attitude of a discerning heart until the day of final judgment. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, assert: “The Church and Christians must remember this. The present is fishing time. The net collects fish of every kind. The sorting out will take place on the shore – then only. This delay is opportunity for each of us.”
This Sunday’s Gospel passage concludes with a question addressed by Jesus to his disciples: “Do you understand all these things?” (Mt 13:51) and with an important remark on the significance of having discovered the treasure of heaven: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Mt 13:52).
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, explain: “To understand all these things is not a question of human intelligence – that of the sages and the smart ones – but of spiritual intelligence – that of the humble and the lowly … We can understand the parables and put their teaching into practice only in the light of the Spirit … The disciples draw near to Jesus in order to receive from him the explanation of the parables. Only by being familiar with the one who pronounced the parables can we probe their meaning and, having become his disciples, be like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Indeed, the discerning heart of the scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven enables him to assess the radically new act of Christ in the light of the Old Testament tradition. According to Origen: “The law and the prophets fully comprehended are the preparation for the full comprehension of the gospel and the complete understanding of the acts and words of Christ Jesus.”
Those who have understood the teaching of Jesus about the mysteries of the kingdom are able to share the heavenly treasure they have discovered. They wisely bring forth both the new and the old for the service of others. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, conclude: “The old means what has been received from tradition and carefully preserved but at the same time perceived as ever new … The gospel is not a sealed collection of Jesus’ words, acts, and judgment, the untouchable memory of which is transmitted. It is the good news announced today. Certainly this preaching must scrupulously respect the authenticity of Jesus’ message … But such preaching is not a material repetition; it must read and announce the message in the todayness of the kingdom.”
by Vic Bruan
(Member: ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master, Antipolo Unit, Philippines)
Reading the Gospel (Mt 13:44-52), I am reminded of the attitude of Filipino parents towards financing the education of their children. They will go to the extent of selling their long-owned inherited lands or their carabaos, mortgaging the very house where they live and most recently, toiling in foreign lands as overseas workers where they forego the comfort of home and the company of family to earn the needed money to pay for tuition fees and other school needs. Such an attitude is really admirable, truly world class and genuinely reflective of total surrender and sacrifice for a cause!
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we should value the Kingdom of God more than anything else, which this earthly world can offer, be it wealth, fame or power. And he gives us a glimpse of what is in store for us at the end of time. The righteous will be separated from the wicked, for whom eternal damnation awaits.
Reviewing my past life and my present character, I am humbled by the immensity of the work I have yet to do to reach the state where I can readily surrender everything to God. Self-centeredness is still my greatest hurdle. This is compounded by my attachment to temporal needs like recognition and money. However, God works in his mysterious ways. Failures and struggles have brought me closer to him than before, when I believed that I could do everything by myself. Truly, it is wise to trust God, who knows not only what is seen, but also the unseen. And he is true to his promise that as long as we live by his words, he will provide for our needs!
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. Do I recognize the great value of the Kingdom of God and the claim that he has on me and on the Christian community? Do I relish the joy that it brings?
B. Do I seek and pursue the heavenly kingdom with zeal, absolute commitment and personal dedication?
C. Have I allowed myself to be instructed in the kingdom of heaven that like the head of a household, I am able to bring forth from the storeroom both the new and the old? Have I endeavored to proclaim the treasures of the Gospel in the impelling reality of today’s situation?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(Cf. Commission Francophone Cistercienne, Tropaires des dimanches, 94)
Leader: Pearl of great price,
precious treasure of the kingdom!
Happy are those who discover them
and in their joy sell all their goods.
Their hearts are free to love.
Assembly: To those who look for the kingdom, everything will be given.
Leader: Seek and you will find;
ask and it will be given to you.
Where your treasure is, there too is your heart.
Share with the poor.
You will have treasure in heaven.
Assembly: To those who look for the kingdom, everything will be given.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt 13:46)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray in thanksgiving for those who have found the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. Pray for all those still seeking to find it. In your life of sacrifice and service, especially to the poor and the outcast, manifest that you have found the treasure in the field and the pearl of a great price. In dealing with today’s culture of death and the structuralized evils in this world, manifest the patient tolerance and the courageous stance of Jesus, the Sower of good seed.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate and experience more deeply the value of God’s Kingdom, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 35): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323