Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
July 26, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Introit

 

Kyrie

 

Gloria

 

Collect

O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading 1 KGS 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, "Ask something of me and I will give it to you." Solomon answered: "O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.  I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.  For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?" The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: "Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you."

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130

 

R. Lord, I love your commands.

I have said, O LORD, that my part

is to keep your words.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious

than thousands of gold and silver pieces.  R.

Let your kindness comfort me

according to your promise to your servants.

Let your compassion come to me that I may live,

for your law is my delight. R.

For I love your command

more than gold, however fine.

For in all your precepts I go forward;

every false way I hate. R.

Wonderful are your decrees;

therefore I observe them.

The revelation of your words sheds light,

giving understanding to the simple. R.

Second Reading  ROM 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Gospel AcclamationCF. MT 11:25

 

Gospel MT 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. "Do you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he replied, "Then 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."

Catena Nova

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 (Origen).

An impress of Wisdom has been created in us and in all his works. Therefore, the true Wisdom which shaped the world claims for himself all that bears his image, and rightly says: The Lord created me in his works. These words are really spoken by the wisdom that is in us, but the Lord himself here adopts them as his own. Wisdom himself is not created, because he is the Creator, but by reason of the created image of himself found in his works, he speaks thus as though he were speaking of himself. Our Lord said: He who receives you receives me, and he could say this because the impress of himself is in us. In the same way, although Wisdom is not to be numbered among created things, yet because his form and likeness are in his works, he speaks as if he were a creature, and he says: The Lord created me in his works, when his purpose first unfolded....So there is a wisdom in created things, as the son of Sirach too bears witness: The Lord has poured it out upon all his works, to be with men as his gift, and with wisdom he has abundantly equipped those who love him. This quality of being “poured out” belongs not to the essence of that self-existent Wisdom who is the Only-Begotten, but to that wisdom which reflects the only-begotten one in the world (St. Athanasius).

Lord, who can comprehend even one of your words? We lose more of it than we grasp, like those who drink from a living spring. For God’s word offers different facets according to the capacity of the listener.  And the Lord has portrayed his message in many colors, so that whoever gazes upon it can see in it what suits him. Within it he has buried manifold treasures, so that each of us might grow rich in seeking them out....And so whenever anyone discovers some part of the treasure, they should not think that they have exhausted God’s word. Instead they should feel that this is all that they were able to find of the wealth contained in it.... Be glad then that you are overwhelmed, and do not be saddened because he has overcome you. Thirsty persons are happy when they are drinking, and are not depressed because they cannot exhaust the spring. So let this spring quench your thirst, and not your thirst the spring. For if you can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring, then when you thirst again you can drink from it once more.  But if when your thirst is sated the spring is also dried up, then your victory would turn to harm. Be thankful, then, for what you have received, and do not be saddened at all that such an abundance still remains. What you have received and attained is your present share, while what is left will be your heritage. For what you could not take at one time because of your weakness, you will be able to grasp at another if you only persevere. So do not foolishly try to drain in one draught what cannot be consumed all at once.  And do not cease out of faintheartedness from what you will be able to absorb as time goes on (St. Ephrem the Syrian). 

Look for wisdom while it can still be found. Call for it while it is near. Do you want to know how near it is? The word is near you, in your heart and on your lips, provided that you seek it honestly. Insofar as you find wisdom in your heart, prudence will flow from your lips, but be careful that it flows from and not away from them, or that you do not vomit it up. If you have found wisdom, you have found honey. But do not eat so much that you become too full and bring it all up. Eat so that you are always hungry. Wisdom says: Those who eat me continue to hunger. Do not think you have too much of it, but do not eat too much or you will throw it up. If you do, what you seem to have will be taken away from you, because you gave up searching too soon. While wisdom is near and while it can be found, look for it and ask for its help. Solomon says: Those who eat too much honey do themselves no good; similarly, those who seek their own glorification will be crushed by that same renown. Happy is the person who has found wisdom. Even more happy are those who live in wisdom, for they perceives its abundance (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

She is Divine Wisdom. She watches over all people and all things in heaven and on earth, being of such radiance and brightness that, for the measureless splendor that shines in Her, you cannot gaze on Her face or on the garments She wears. For She is awesome in terror as the Thunderer's lightening, and gentle in goodness as the sunshine. Hence, in Her terror and Her gentleness, She is incomprehensible to mortals, because of the dread radiance of divinity in Her face and the brightness that dwells in Her as the robe of Her beauty. She is like the Sun, which none can contemplate in its blazing face or in the glorious garment of its rays. For She is with all and in all, and of beauty so great in Her mystery that no one could know how sweetly She bears with people, and with what unfathomable mercy She spares them (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all....There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom. I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this, my Sister, sent to me from the depths of the divine fecundity (Thomas Merton).

We can’t believe simultaneously in Chance and Providence. We do in fact believe in Providence, but we live as if we believed in Chance. It is from this that the inconsistencies in our lives stem; both the situations where we get over-active and the situations where we are unduly passive….And yet we receive each morning and each day in its entirety from the hands of God. God gives us a day which has been prepared for us by him. There are no “too muches” or “not enough” in it. No part of it is neutral, no part of it is useless. It is a masterpiece of a day that he has just asked us to live. But we regard it as just another agenda sheet—with a number and a month upon it. We treat it casually like a sheet of paper. If we could research the history of the world and watch this day as it was being developed and formed from the beginning of time, we would grasp the unique value of one single human day. And if we had a little faith we would want to go down on our knees before the day that we experience as Christians. We are charged with an energy which is way out of proportion to the measure of our world: the faith that moves mountains, the hope that refuses to accept that something is impossible, the love which sets the world on fire. Each minute of our day, wherever we’re supposed to be and whatever we’re supposed to be doing, allows Christ to live through us in the midst of human beings. So there is no more question of calculating the effectiveness of our time…. We make our humble measurement of the will of God (Madeleine Delbrêl).

In the Gospel Jesus once more tells three parables that are intended to give a clear view of the Kingdom of heaven. The first two resemble each other in what they say and in what is required by what they say: earthly prudence alone requires that the farmer and the merchant sell everything in order to acquire something even more valuable: the treasure found in the field and the precious pearl. To do so is largely shrewdness rather than any sort of wager. Whoever understands the value of what Jesus offers will not hesitate to get rid of everything of his own, to become poor in spirit and in pure faith, in order to obtain what has been offered. “Blessed are the poor in spirit [that is, those whose attitude toward everything is one of renunciation], for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Yet not everyone finds the treasure and the pearl, not everyone is ready for full investment. Thus, as last Sunday, we have a third parable that draws a conclusion of eschatological judgment from a decision made within time—the net is brought to shore and the useless fish are thrown away. This means that God’s offer of a unique chance is backed up by a stern warning not to miss it. At stake is the loss or gain of the whole meaning of human existence. Just as the farmer and the merchant are shrewd enough not to hesitate for a moment, so the Christian who has grasped what is at stake will take action immediately (Hans Urs von Balthasar).

Homily

These Really Are the Good Old Days

            Nostalgia’s a funny thing.  We often look at the past through rose-colored glasses, don’t we?  Remembering things selectively.  And I suppose there will be a lot more of that as the pandemic continues and we look back wistfully at a normalcy unlikely to return as if the “good old days” are now in the rearview mirror.  Do you remember what it was like to go shopping without a mask on – assuming the store in question is still open?  Or to the movies?

            I remember seeing Nunsense on Broadway years ago.  Sister Robert Anne sang a solo called “Growing Up Catholic.”  The lyrics went like this:

At St. Clare's School, religion class

began with Mass each day.

It was said in Latin then.

 

That's how I learned to pray.

 The nuns appeared in black and white

 and so did every rule.

 Things were either wrong or right.

 

 But then the rules began to change

 and many lost their way.

 What was always black and white

 was turning shades of gray.

 

 Though Mass is said in English now

 to make us more aware

 confusion seemed to reign supreme

 but God, it's everywhere.

 

 The Church is quite progressive now

 though people ridicule the fact that

 so many things are optional

 it's hard to find a rule.

 

 But through it all I've often said

 those ancient Latin prayers

 that I first learned when growing up

 Catholic at St. Clare's.

            As she was singing, I could sense a wave of nostalgia sweeping over the audience.  (I almost said “congregation”).  At the end of the song, she led the crowd in a verse of “Bring Flowers of the Fairest” – the hymn sung at May crownings back in the day.  Remember those? And I couldn’t believe the number of people who joined in, singing a hymn I’m sure most hadn’t heard for decades, but was still there in those warm and fuzzy memory banks. (All I have to do is sniff a lilac and I am immediately transported to Sr. Josephine’s fifth grade classroom when Mary Cecelia McHale and I were chosen to crown the statue of the Blessed Virgin).

            And though the good old days about which Sr. Robert Anne waxed nostalgic are a good 60 years in the past, there are places today you’d think never heard of the Second Vatican Council.  And not just among older Catholics.  The Latin Mass has made a comeback and younger people are often the majority who attend.  And priests today are more likely to look like Fr. O’Malley from Going My Way dressed in cassock and biretta than Daniel Berrigan protesting the Vietnam War in mufti.  And the nuns on EWTN look like they’d be more at home in Sister Act before Sr. Mary Clarence took over the choir.

            I’m celebrating my 40th anniversary of ordination this year, and anyone ordained in 1980 is bound to feel caught between two opposing aspects of church life before and since.  I am too young to have been part of the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.  I was in fifth grade when the Council ended.  On the other hand, I am too old for the reaction that set in as the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI witnessed the rise pre-Conciliar forms and attitudes.  To be honest, I have little in common with either cohort.  So to half the world I look somewhat conservative, and to the other, rather liberal --   but I consider myself neither.

            So whether you’re “a little bit country” or “a little bit rock ‘n roll” when it comes to religion, Jesus reminds us that 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 (G)And frankly, I think we can do without lace surplices and birettas.  They’re fish in the bucket we can toss back in the water.  On the other hand, I never developed an allergy to Latin and I sometimes pray those ancient prayers along with Sr. Robert Anne.  And I am well aware we need the wisdom of Solomon to tell the difference.

            So what’s in your storeroom?

 Creed

 

Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

For our teachers in the church, instructed in the kingdom of heaven, that they may bring from the storerooms of their wisdom both the old and the new for the edification of God’s people.

For the nations, that God may grant them leaders who wish to possess an understanding heart, that they may judge their people rightly and distinguish right from wrong.

That we may understand the joy we have in our hidden treasure, our precious pearl of the kingdom of God, gladly selling all we have to possess it fully.

That we may love the commands of God, making it our part to keep His words and observe His decrees, allowing His law to be our delight.

For all who are in a season of suffering who have asked for our prayers, that all things may work for their good through God’s tender and powerful providence.

For our faithful departed ones, predestined and called to be conformed to the image of Jesus, that they may now be justified in Him and glorified with Him in heaven.

 God of eternal wisdom, you alone impart the gift of right judgement. Grant us an understanding heart, that we may value wisely the treasure of your kingdom
and gladly forgo all lesser gifts to possess that kingdom’s incomparable joy. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Offertory Hymn

 

The Lord appeared within a dream

When Solomon was deep in sleep

And offered him his heart’s delight,

A precious gift for him to keep.

 

Of all the things he could have had,

The monarch chose a gift of grace,

An understanding heart, that he

Might wisely govern all his race.

 

The reign of God (as Jesus taught)

Is seen by folk of single heart

Who, having found the precious pearl,

Will never from their treasure part.

 

All things, for those who love the Lord,

Our God will cause to work out well.

The loving heart, the focused mind,

Will lose no chance, God’s praise to tell.

Lord’s Prayer

Trusting in the providence of God, we pray as Jesus taught us...

Spiritual Communion (Diana Macalintal)

My Jesus,
I believe that, even before I was born, you have been with me,
knitting my very being, day by day, into the garment of your love,
clothing me with grace every moment of my life.
And on the day of my baptism you poured your love into my heart
through the Holy Spirit who unites me eternally to you.

Through that same Spirit I pledge my love and adore you,
present in your Most Holy Body and Blood.
Though I cannot consume you in this sacred banquet
let me be consumed by your complete desire for me
so that my longing for you may be filled with your love alone
and your mercy overflow through me into this world so in need.

On that joyful day when I do receive you in the Eucharist,
may I remember that this precious gift is still but a foretaste
of the holy gifts that await your holy people at your heavenly altar.
There, with the saints and angels, we shall see you face to face
and give you perfect praise for ever. Amen.

Communion Antiphon

Closing Hymn (John Michael Talbot)

 

I sought the Lord for Wisdom
Therefore I prayed and prudence was given
I preferred her to riches and gold
In comparison with her all glory will fade

Gold becomes like the merest sand
Silver is accounted as mire
Yet all good things come together in her
And countless riches at her hand

For she is artificer of all
And she is the gift from God

Simply I learned of Wisdom
Simply do I now share her with you
She is an unfailing treasure
And those who gain her win friendship with God

She is the sure of the light of God
A pure effusion of His glory
She reflects eternal…

 

 

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