Spiritual Reading : Week starting on July 24th, 2017
Week of 24 July 2017 (reference: readings for Sunday 30th July)
17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Reading: 1 R (3,5.7-12); Psalms 118,57.72.76-77.127-128.129-130; Rom 8,28-30; Mt 13,44-52
"Everything contributes to the good of those who love God, those who are called to salvation, according to the plan of God."
In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks to us once again with parables.
First, He says that "the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure trove in a field. A man finds it and keeps it hidden. Full of joy, he goes and sells all his possessions and buys that field."
In many places in the Bible, Jesus and the Apostles say that the Holy Spirit (God) dwells within us; He is there, within our heart, as a hidden treasure. When we find it, everything changes in our life. When we convert, i.e., as St. Paul says in today’s reading, when we discover that "we are called to salvation, according to the plan of God", we can then forget all other riches, because we only want to continue with this project.
Later, Jesus tells us that "the Kingdom of Heaven is like a buyer looking for precious pearls; when he finds a pearl of great value, he goes and sells all his possessions and buy that pearl". In the former case about the treasure, the man was not looking for it: he merely found, in its day-to-day work, by the grace of God, the treasure that he was seeking. Here, the purchaser of pearls lives on buying pearls and looks incessantly for a pearl of great value. It is like us living always looking for the meaning of our life; sometimes we seek among not-so-precious stones and deceive ourselves. As soon as we find in God's plan the sense for us (the precious pearl), we no longer need to search for the meaning of our life, and we no longer need to look eagerly for our place in the world, because we have already found the final peace.
Finally, Jesus says that "the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net thrown into the sea which catches fish of all kinds; when it is full, the fishermen pull the net, go to the beach, sit down and gather the good fish in baskets and throw away the rest". This is another beautiful lesson for the decisions we take in all the activities that we have at work, in the family, in the SSVP, in the parish and in our social life. We need to stop from time to time in order to assess our lives, we need to know how to identify the fish that is not good and throw it away: our hate, our resentment, our frustrations, our sorrows. We have to focus on the good fish and put them in the basket of our heart: our friends, the people we assist, all those who help us to fish better, to look for the precious pearl and to find the divine treasure that is within us. How many times we are more concerned about the "bad fish" and spend much time trying to catch more, pulling the net again, looking for something that we do not have. Meanwhile, God keeps putting “good fish” in our fishing net and we do not notice it.
The Vincentian vocation has much to do with today’s parables. There cannot be a richer divine treasure, or more precious pearl, or better fish than the poor that we are helping. In him dwells God himself, who dwells within us, in a hidden way. For this reason, we are to serve him/her without advertising it, without noise or showing off. In the Poor is the pearl that is worth more than all our possessions together. It is through him/her that we learn how to use the best we have which is our time. For this reason, when we serve the Poor, we only should be concerned about them, as we do with the pearl of great value, we cannot disperse our attention and our time with other things: they have to feel fully honoured by our visit; they are our "Masters and Lords", as St. Vincent used to say. Finally, the good fish are in the Poor: it is in them where our food and our livelihood are; our assisted person has the power to feed us with good things and encourage us to "throw away the bad fish". He gives us the true perspective of the value of things. In the end, it is the assisted person who makes us "fair" in the Pauline sense of "saints".