17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

17A   1 Kings 3:5, 7-12.  King Solomon asks for the wisdom to best be able to serve the people of his kingdom.   God grants his request because he wants what God wants of him.  Though Solomon was given the gift of wisdom, later he did not always do the wisest thing.  Knowing how to act and doing it are two different things.

Matthew 13:44-52.  These three parables all start off with: “The kingdom of heaven is like a,” and then they all go out seeking something.  In the first two, when what is sought after is found, then the seeker “goes and sells all that he has and buys” what they are searching for.  Really what is being sought after is “the kingdom of heaven.”  In order to obtain it, we must, so to speak, “sell all we have” to obtain what is most valuable to us, i.e. give all we have and all we are, which is the death on the cross, to acquire what is most valuable to us, the resurrection.  In Matthew 19:21, Jesus said to the rich young man, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to [the] poor, you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” If he had actually done that, today he would probably been one of the greatest saints in heaven, which is to say, one of the richest men who has ever lived in terms not of earth but of heaven.

As an aside thought, Jesus is not saying that to be perfect or holy we must be without possessions, although that is what he, in fact, did call the rich young man to.  In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I believe that to be ‘poor in spirit’ means to live in complete dependence and confidence  in God always willing to submit to God’s Will no matter what we have or do not have in terms of earthly possessions.

In the third of this Sunday’s gospel parables there is “the end of the age” separation of the good from the bad with the bad thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  This is followed by the statement that every scribe or student of the Scriptures, “who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” which was the subject of the three parables just spoken of in this gospel, “is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”  That is to say, the scribe will draw on the wisdom of the New and Old Testaments what he needs to bring his household into the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 8:28-30.  The terms in this epistle: called according to his purpose, foreknew, predestined to be conformed, called, justified and glorified, were interpreted in John Calvin’s writings as God having predestined us to heaven or hell, and no one has the power to change the destiny assigned to them by God.  In the first sentence of this epistle, Paul writes, “that all things work for good for those who love God, according to his purpose.”  In other words, all things work for the good of those who have freely chosen to love God and who work in union with God to their sanctification which is God’s Will and purpose for all of us.  God, in his capacity as God, already foreknew but did not coerce what decisions we would make.  As any good parent, God had the best of wishes for our future and, in that sense, predestined us “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” which is that we work be a holy people who daily obeyed the Father’s Will for us.  In John 15:16a, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”  In Mark 1:17, Jesus says to Simon and Andrew, “Come after me,” and then in vs.20 he calls James and John to follow him.  I truly believe he calls us all but some say yes sooner or later and others, no.  It is our decision and we must all answer for our decision that we have lived out.  And then he justifies us, i.e., he empowers us to follow our calling to holiness through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This past Sunday’s Epistle (Romans 8:26-27) states that the Spirit “intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s Will,” which is that we be a holy people.  In John 15:16b&c, Jesus says, I “appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

Paul writes in Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”   1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it has been revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  Paul writes in Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.”  God will share his glory with those who truly love him and his Will.