Daily Reflection
July 24th, 2005

Larry Gillick, S.J.

Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
Romans 8:28-30
Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46


We might call this “Wisdom Sunday”. We pray with the religious sense we already have. We have made personal choices concerning the important realities of our lives: relationships, material possessions, use of time.

In preparing to celebrate this liturgy, we might ponder our sense of priorities and how they are formed by our relationship with Jesus. We also can reflect upon the invitations which come to us from our surroundings to make decisions contrary to our faith. We pray with the tensions which arise, because we have such a wisdom and spiritual sensitivity that we know both calls.


Solomon has succeeded his father David as king in Jerusalem. In our First Reading for the liturgy we hear a dream-talk. Dreams preceded the Prophetic Movement as the way of God communicating with human beings directly. Solomon is a bit overwhelmed by the immensity of the people and the call to govern them.

What we hear is the conversation which Solomon hears in his worried sleep. God initiates, Solomon responds, and God concludes with a blessing-promise. Solomon is a deeply religious man and trusts what he hears in the dream. He has not asked for such human things as wealth and power: he asks for the spiritual way to minister God’s love to God’s people.

We finish the series of parables with three of them in today’s Gospel. They all involve spiritual discernment. There is a treasure in a field, a precious pearl, and a full fishnet. The Gospel then concludes with a metaphor which is important to the entire understanding of what all the parables are about.

There is a famous athletic coach in our country who says that the most important word in sports is “WIN,” “What’s Important Now.” His wisdom centers around deciding what a person really wants and then choosing those means or actions to attain the fulfillment of that decision. If one desires to be a great football player, but never exercises then that person wanted merely to want to be a great star. Our actions will indicate what we really desire.

The person who found the treasure and bought the whole field is the person who buys into the entirety of Jesus including the Jewish religious traditions from which Jesus comes. The person who finds a great pearl is the one who finds the teachings of Jesus more valuable to interior wealth than any form of worldly riches. The fishing net when hauled in has collected all kinds of fish and other sea-borne flotsam. This is the final parable. Those who have the righteousness flowing from the teachings of Jesus will be gathered together and put into the bucket of salvation. The wicked will be thrown away for their lives were worthless. The righteous have lived with the sense of what’s important now.

The metaphor is directed to the religious leaders whom Jesus knows have been listening as well as those following Jesus. The “new” and the “old” are to be valued. All the covenants, laws, traditions of the past are to be reverenced for their truth and wisdom. They are built upon by the “new” which are the person and teachings of Jesus. All things are to be stored up as life-giving treasures, the “new” and the “old.”

This final summary then is perhaps the hardest to hear for the Scribes and the Pharisees. They have chosen the treasures of the “old” revelations and have not bought the treasure, the pearl of the “new,” revelation of God’s love in Jesus. The Scribes and Pharisees are not bad religious leaders, they are being faithful to what has been important to their lives. Jesus has come to stretch their minds and hearts and as we know, that is not an easy task.

We love “optionality” that is our freedom to choose and reject. Shopping, looking over menus, even making friends, are experiences of our freedom. The more wealthy we are the more choices we have. The wisdom of Jesus’ ways affirms that our wealth is interior; it is our identity. We have bought the field of faith and the pearl of Jesus and we have bought these, selling all other forms of personal identity.

Buying the treasure and the pearl is the beginning of wisdom, living out the influences of these purchases is righteousness. The treasure and the pearl are to be lived, shared, enjoyed, celebrated, and above all reverenced. We are the householders who bring out the “old” and the “new.” We are the “good soil,” the “wheat,” not thrown away. We celebrate in our lives who’s important now. What is important is receiving and believing who is important to Jesus. What is important is creation and life. What is important now is ending this Reflection so I can go and do something good elsewhere.

“O bless the Lord, my soul, and remember all His kindness.” Ps. 103


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