Homily Seventeenth Sunday Year A Eternal choice

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Homily: Seventeenth Sunday Year A

Reading 1: What is the heart of this reading? The unselfishness of Solomon. He did not ask for riches, for longer life or victory over his enemies. But he asked for an understanding heart to better care for God’s people, distinguishing right from wrong. The focus was others.

Solomon was asking for a gift from God over and beyond his natural gift of knowledge and understanding. The King didn’t trust his limited, human gifts but asked for a share in God’s gift. Knowledge and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Like Solomon, each of us has the natural gifts of knowledge and understanding. But God, in his great love for us, has given us the gifts of his Holy Spirit at the time of Baptism and Confirmation. We, like Solomon, must ask God to help us to exercise these gifts appropriately. As parents, you have been given responsibility over your children, who belong to God. There are many times you do not know how to deal with a particular situation. You agonize. Have you thought of calling on the Lord to help you with the gift of the Spirit to know how to counsel your children and to guide them in the decisions they are making?

You may recall the famous case Solomon had to judge. Two women had children, one died in birth and the other lived. Both women claimed to be the rightful mother of the living child. So to determine the truth, Solomon ordered that the living child should be divided into two by the sword and given to each. The real mother of the child was not willing for her child to die, so she pleaded for his life. We, too, must pray for the gift of understanding, so as to make right decisions in matters of importance.

Gospel: From a material point of view, we know how to act. Everyone is looking for a good bargain or for that which is worth more. If a house is for sale, and I find a secret hiding place where the previous owner stashed a million dollars, would I not do all I can to purchase the house for $200,000 to obtain a greater prize?

Jesus is not condemning such initiatives. But he is asking the bigger question. What is more important than eternal life and happiness in the presence of God? If we come to that realization should we not sacrifice everything to be able to enter into the true end of our life?

We can see this in the lives of different people. They are enjoying one style of life, but then they discover the person of Jesus Christ and are willing to let go their former way of life for what is now greater in their eyes. To their family and friends, they are fools, but in their own eyes they made the better choice. For they view things, not from the material, sensual world but from the perspective of eternity.

What good does it profit a person to gain the whole world but to lose his life in the end? People don’t stumble on such treasure. They are in search for it. Some people find a masterpiece of art but see it as a replica of the original.

Reading 2: There is a conviction undergirded by certainty in Paul’s statement: “all things work for good for those who love God.” There are no coincidences in life. Everything has a plan and ultimate purpose as to God’s will. Even what may seem evil in our eyes, such as death, is God’s way of keeping our eyes fixed on him and not on death.

Paul was convinced that the suffering and pain of life are nothing compared to the glory to come for those whose faith is in God. Here Paul guides us through the spiritual journey. First, we are called by God. This is the plan of God. Second, he foreknew us from all eternity. Third, he willed us to be with him in glory. Jesus is the pattern of our life. Fourth, he justified us because we sinned.  This is the purpose of the Incarnation. The Son became to suffer and to die in our place, so that we may be reconciled back to God.

Fifth, he has glorified us through the sharing of his own divine life with us. Paul identifies what God has done and is doing in our life. Sixth, we are called to full union with God forever. It is not our work but God’s. Ours is to respond to the grace God gives us.

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