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Be Radical: Reflection on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pearl of great price. Gibraltar Catholic Youth.

There are two themes that run through this Sunday’s Readings. First, the prioritising of the spiritual and eternal things over the physical and temporal things and second, the absolute radicalness of the Gospel. Of course, they are intimately linked to each other but let’s look at them one by one.

In the First Reading, we have King Solomon, David’s heir to the throne. God appears to him in a dream and says that He will grant Solomon his wish. Notice Solomon’s immediate interior reaction: Humility.

“O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in succession to David my father. But I am a very young man, unskilled in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of this people of yours that you have chosen, a people so many its number cannot be counted or reckoned.”

Then, Solomon asks of the Lord what can really be of value; something that will greatly affect his relationship with the Lord as the Lord’s earthly King (Solomon was the King of Israel, God’s people).

“…Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?”

You see, what is important to Solomon is the ability to implement God’s standard of morality, not man’s; but for this, Solomon needs to know what that standard is. Solomon chooses the eternal over the temporal. But God, in His goodness, actually does give him everything else he could have asked for in addition. Why? Because when God asks you to give up something, you get everything you ever dreamed of and more in return!

This brings me to point number two. This is exactly what Jesus calls us to do.

“Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’”

In both of these parables, Jesus speaks of selling everything one owns! And who or what is this pearl of great price or this great treasure? It is Jesus! Whether we like it or not, St Augustine said it best and true it is! In the very first paragraph of his book called “Confessions” he writes, speaking to God, “…for you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” It’s a famous quote and no doubt you’ve heard it before and this probably won’t be the last time either, but thank God (literally) for that, because we surely need to be reminded again and again!

Our hearts are unfulfilled until God fills our hearts with Himself! So, ultimately, what do we lose when we sell everything for that great treasure or pearl of great price? We lose everything that ties us down; everything that lies to us with empty promises; we lose all of that nonsense and we gain the very thing, the very person, that will bring us the greatest, most fulfilling, and unending satisfaction the world has ever known and will ever know!

But Jeremy should I really sell my car, my house, and give away all of my money? There are some people that do it! We call these people “religious” and they take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to conform their lives more to our Lord Jesus. But there are others, who are called “lay” or “secular,” who are still called to this radicalness of the Gospel but are called to live it in a different way.

In the first place, if you struggle with any of these temporal possessions inviting you to sin, tear that out of your life without a second thought and don’t look back. Be radical when it comes to choosing between Jesus and anything that isn’t. But other than that, you need to order the use of all possessions to the glory of God. If using or doing something won’t get you closer to God, don't do it! And believe me, nothing is “neutral.” If it’s not getting you closer, it’s pushing you away. Be radical. And with great fervour we can pray, hasta con un tono bien Llanito, “¡Señor, aparta de mi lo que me aparta de ti!” ¿Punto y pelota, verdád?

To give us encouragement, St Paul in our Second Reading assures us that “We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose.” In other words, everything works for the good of those who love Him.

This Sunday, Jesus puts His whole self on the table again for the taking, and of course, He does so in the most literal of ways so that there can be no misinterpretation. Take Him. He is your treasure, He is your pearl of great price, He has made you for Himself and your heart will be restless until you rest in Him.

Es el amigo que nunca falla.

See you next week on Seeking the Word!


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Recommended Reading

Hey guys, Jeremy here. I really recommend these books below to deepen your faith even further and they will also help you understand more of what I've talked about this week. You might be able to find them in the Cornerstone Bookshop in town (in Gibraltar) or you can click the image below to be taken directly to the book in the store.

Introduction to the Devout Life - St Francis de Sales
Jesus the Bridegroom - Brant Pitre
Fill These Hearts - Christopher West
The Feast of Faith - Joseph Ratzinger
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