Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
July 30, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








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. (RM)

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 commands

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 Acclamation CF. 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).

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....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). 

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.  (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

Wisdom 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).

How can I explain the riches and treasures and delights found when the soul is united to God in prayer? Since in some way we can enjoy heaven on earth, be brave in begging the Lord to give us his grace in that he show us the way and strengthen the soul that it may dig until it finds this hidden treasure. The truth is that the treasure lies within our very selves.  (St. Teresa of Avila)
Anyone who is to find a hidden treasure must enter the hiding place secretly and once he has discovered it, he will also be hidden just as the treasure is hidden. Since, then, your beloved Bridegroom is the treasure hidden in a field, for which the wise merchant sold all his possessions [Matt. 13:44], and that field is your soul, in order to find Him you should forget all your possessions and all creatures and hide in the interior, secret chamber of your spirit. And there, closing the door behind you (your will to all things), you should pray to your Father in secret [Matt. 6:6]. Remaining hidden with Him, you will experience Him in hiding, and love and enjoy Him in hiding, and you will delight with Him in hiding, that is, in a way transcending all language and feeling.  (St. John of the Cross)

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)


     The diocesan newspaper reported this week on something called Chant Camp being held at the cathedral for young people interested in learning about the musical heritage of the Catholic Church.  They were making a debut at Mass last Sunday, so out of curiosity I looked at the livestream video on YouTube.  Now I have nothing against Gregorian chant per se and I applaud efforts to improve the generally shabby state of church music which — coupled with mediocre preaching -- are the two things polls indicate Catholics, compared to Protestants, find unsatisfying (cf. Pew Research Center; June 2, 2023).
     So I was hopeful about the online Mass except that the celebrant — in vesture and gesture — seemed to favor a certain "style" more reminiscent of  the Mass that was celebrated before the reformed liturgy authorized after the Second Vatican Council.  On a similar note, I was speaking to a priest who was asked if "there were new rules about the Mass" since his parish priest has started to face the altar rather than the congregation apparently without explanation.  
     I often wonder what motivates many of the (mostly) younger clergy who want to restore certain clerical and liturgical styles of the past — everything from fashion statements like cassocks to a fondness for Latin.   While a concern for orthodoxy and decorum might be the underlying impulse — with a corresponding over-confidence that their pet issues are the worst examples of lapses in both — I suspect there's an unhealthy attachment to an imaginary Golden Age at work.
     After all, nostalgia’s a funny thing.  We often look at the past through rose-colored glasses, don’t we?  Remembering things selectively.  Things that give us a warm fuzzy feeling.  I remember seeing Nunsense on Broadway years ago.  Sister Robert Anne sang a solo called Growing Up Catholic that 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?  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.  
     Now I admit any number of things in the church's storeroom could be brought out by wise householders, both the new and the old (G).  Friday abstinence from meat is an "old" case in point — but for some very "new" reasons.  They've had this in England and Wales for he past 12 years where the quarter of Catholics who've obliged have saved over 55,000 tons of carbon emissions  — the equivalent of 82,000 fewer people take an annual  two-way trip from London to New York (;  October 31, 2022).
     What we really need is the wisdom King Solomon prayed for to tell the difference between items from the past we can and should discard and those we should keep or retrieve — whether in the church or in our personal lives, our spiritual practice, our commitments of time and treasure, and our relationships — which you put in a bucket while others you throw away (cf. G).  Otherwise we end up looking like caricatures of ourselves, out of time and out of place. So what's in your nets?

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may place a supreme value on seeking the reign of God and utilize all our talents to deepen our relationship with God.

For all leaders in the Christian community: that God will give them wisdom in choosing how to present the Gospel tradition in new and meaningful ways today.

For grace and insight: that we may utilize the traditions and practices that have sustained previous generations of Christians and be open to following the new inspirations of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

For all judges: that God's wisdom will fill their hearts so that they may decide fairly for all the afflicted and reverence the value and dignity of each human life.

For all who are working for justice: that God will help them to remind society of the truth about human dignity and inspire their words to unlock hearts and move people to action.

For members of Congress: that God will break through the mistrust that has developed and guide them in developing effective laws to address injustice and the greatest needs of society.

For all suffering from the heat: that God will moderate the temperatures, help sufferers to find relief, and help us to show care for one another.

 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. (ICEL; 1998)

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.

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 light
A spotless mirror of the image of God
For she is artificer of all
And she is the gift from God

I sought to take her for my bride
From my youth I sought her beauty
Beside her now I take my repose
Living with her brings love, joy and peace