Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Introduction 

The last few weeks we’ve been treated to kingdom stories. Some are casual, like the woman kneading dough or the sower going to plant a field. Some are loaded with suppressed excitement: the merchant finding the pearl, or the discovery of treasure in an unmarked field. What kind of kingdom can be glimpsed from a net cast lightly into the sea, emerging with the day’s catch and a year’s worth of junk?

What’s clear is that the kingdom of God isn’t a simple idea. It’s not the usual religious jaunt from a life of good works to a heavenly reward. The kingdom is known through fidelity to small tasks, yet holds enormous surprises and can lead to high spiritual gambles. We may be willing to put a pinch of piety into the dough and watch the bread rise. But not all of us will be selling everything, even to purchase the brightest pearl on earth. Gamble, with our nest egg?

In fact, every kingdom story has its own risk factor. Not every loaf will rise, not every field sown will produce a yield. The dragnet of human experience pulls up what’s useful to spiritual growth and also more garbage to haul around. We’re choosing, in every minute, how much we will sacrifice, how much to risk.

Which of the kingdom stories in the last two Sunday’s gospels speak to your life right now?

Bake a loaf of bread. Plant a seed. Go fishing. Invest in something really important. But whatever you do, consider how your actions teach you about God’s kingdom and how it comes into the world through you.

The Scripture (Matthew 13: 44) The Parable of the the Hidden Treasure

Jesus continued, ‘God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidently found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic – what a find! – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy the field’.

The Story

On television there is a program called Antiques Roadshow. People bring items to be appraised by professionals and experts with the hope that their vase or painting or chair might be a valuable antique. The fun of the program lies in the description of the item given by the appraiser and the growing anticipation of the value that will be placed on it.

While occasionally an item is judged to be ordinary or counterfeit, more often than not the owner, who does not have a clue to its worth, is shocked at the auction price value of something that has been lying around unprotected in his or her cupboard or garage. Sadly, though, for every 30 or so people they show on the program, countless others go home disappointed.

By virtue of our Baptism, we have been given the gift of the kingdom of God in faith. Even if that faith may not be perfect, and even if it is a little nicked or scratched, it is still valuable beyond measure. The appraiser is Jesus. And he is telling us that our faith is a priceless gift. That should bring us all great joy and comfort.

The Commissioning

Go from here as those determined to reveal God’s realm.
In God’s realm, the very young are cherished, and the very old are respected.
In God’s realm, people who work with figures are valued, and those who listen carefully are treasured.
In God’s realm, no gender, no colour, no culture is considered better than another.
In God’s realm, those who build and repair are considered important, and so are those who write books and poems.
In God’s realm, there is a place for the robust and healthy.
In God’s realm, there are special places for the struggling, and those with special ability and gifts.
Go from here as those charged with the task of making clear God’s realm.

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