The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time at St Mark Catholic Church in Norman, OK
July 28, 2002
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 + Romans 8:28-30 + Matthew 13:44-52
Matthew comes now to the end of Chapter 13, and the next discourse is about to begin: a discourse on Discipleship. His Jesus has drawn us in side. The parable of seed sown everywhere was spoken to the crowds by the lake side, and the final parable of the net is spoken from within to those who have asked and sought the meaning of these parables and shown desire to find the kingdom of heaven. For some that effort is as easy as tripping over something that was right in front of them. For others, it is a labor of desire that goes on and on. In either case, we have learned that it takes “Understanding” that has nothing to do with cognitive awareness, but rather with a commitment to act out what we believe.
What Jesus hands on to those who have shown their desire to go in, to go deeper, to ask the big questions about the meaning of his teaching, and to seek understanding in the face of scorn and ridicule is WISDOM. It is his gift in Chapter Thirteen to those who will now become his disciple/companions. Be wise enough, says Jesus, to know that the reign of God is more important than any other value. Be wise enough to give yourself to that reign in all you are and all you do.
As the Gospel will continue to unfold, we shall see this Wisdom in Jesus. We shall see this Wisdom as Jesus personified. The Liturgy this day gives us hints from the Old Testament about this treasured gift in the story of Solomon. It urges us to be like the scribe at the end of this chapter who can reach into that Old Testament to bring forth this Wisdom and give it life in Jesus Christ.
This “Wisdom” is not the same as “Intelligence”. Smart people are not necessarily wise people. Those who possess Wisdom know how to live, how to distinguish right from wrong, truth from a lie, what brings goodness from what brings harm, what is authentic and what is false. The Wise can recognize and pursue true and lasting values like the people in the story Jesus tells us today.
The mind, the heart, and the attitude of Jesus Christ must be ours if we are to be Wise and possess the treasure that he has come to give us in himself. In Him we shall become wise enough to serve others as he served, indiscriminately, without playing favorites, and always without judgment. This in the end is what it shall be to live in the reign of God. We shall take the long view in this world, looking toward what has begun among us and what it shall become. We shall judge the true value of everything and everyone in terms of eternity. In other words, what will this person, this experience or even this joy or this suffering mean to us at the end? Will it pass with us to the other side? If not, the wise will ask if it is worth all the effort, energy and attention we are tempted to give. We shall, if we become wise, leave most matters to God who is Wisdom and to Jesus who is Wisdom Incarnate. The more we put on Christ, the more wisdom we shall possess, and perhaps the best evidence of our growth in that wisdom is to ask for it in our prayer.