July 24, 2011 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
What’s most valuable to you? What do you find so meaningful that you’re willing to commit everything you have to obtain it? Is there anything you’re really passionate about? Jesus tells us, in today’s Gospel, that the Kingdom of God is what his followers find most worthwhile.
He used two illustrations to make that point. The first tells of a man who finds a treasure buried in a field and sells everything he has – out of joy, no less – so he can buy that field with its hidden treasure. The second example relates how a merchant in search of fine pearls finds one so exceptional that he sells all he owns so he can purchase it.
It may seem foolish to risk everything in that way for a single purpose. The desire for security makes us reluctant to bet everything for any single goal. Should we not diversify our assets and refuse to put all our eggs in one basket? The world tells us not to trust anyone or anything completely. In fact, holding some resources in reserve would seem to be the wise thing to do.
But wisdom is indeed what is called for, and what the world calls wisdom may not actually be so wise after all. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:25), “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” Only God’s wisdom can teach us what has ultimate value.
Wisdom from God is what Solomon asked for in today’s First Reading. He was young, and he had just come to the throne of Israel after the death of his father David. He felt unequal to the task of making the decisions he’d be called to make. After he had offered sacrifices the Lord appeared to him in a dream and offered to give him whatever he asked. Instead of asking for riches or a larger empire, Solomon asked for wisdom so he could rightly govern his people.
The wisdom that comes from God is what we need to make the decisions we should. Although most of us don’t have nations to govern, we, too, have choices to make. Jesus tells the brief parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price to make the point that the Kingdom of God is of surpassing worth, so valuable we should be willing to sacrifice all we have for its sake. Choosing it is the wise decision.
That does not mean that God requires us to neglect all our other responsibilities – family, job, and community. We should, however, make sure to keep these in proper perspective so that other demands do not interfere with God’s place in our lives.
And this is where wisdom is needed. How do we budget our time so that we can ensure we have time for prayer, worship, and study of God’s truths despite the demands that employers and family make on us? How can we employ the talents God has entrusted to us in the service of his Church and still fulfill our other responsibilities? How do we apportion our financial resources, our treasure, so we can offer what we should to the support of our parish and also pay our bills?
Seeking to answer these questions makes aware of our need for wisdom, the true wisdom that is the gift of God. The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 119) has the response, “Lord, I love your commands.” One good way to gain wisdom is to study God’s revelation given in the Bible. That study can help us realize the ultimate importance of the Kingdom of God and assist us in figuring out how to arrange our other duties so that we may live with the joy experienced by the truly wise.