Audio Sermons

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    In our gospel today Jesus gives three short parables to help people
    understand the nature of the Kingdom of heaven. I will speak about the first
    two because they seem somewhat similar. In one of them, a man accidentally
    finds a treasure buried in a field. In the ancient world people regularly buried
    treasure as a way of trying to keep it safe. If however, the person who buried it
    forgot where it was buried, died before he told others, or was carried off in war,
    the treasure would remain hidden until someone accidentally found it, like in
    the parable. The other parable concerns a merchant searching for fine pearls.
    Without planning on it he finds a truly exceptional one.
    Now these parables might seem similar because at first blush it seems like
    the man who found the buried treasure and the man who came upon the
    exceptionally valuable pearl simply had good fortune. They hadn’t planned on
    these things but they occurred anyway. But actually chance had very little to do
    with what they found. In the first case, the man who found the buried treasure
    had in all likelihood been ploughing the field for a crop. So if you take his
    actions in sequence he ploughs or works the field, he finds, he hides, he sells all
    that he has, and he buys – the field.
    The merchant who comes across the exceptional pearl is likewise busy. He
    searches which means he travels, he goes to vendors, and markets, he spends
    time looking over pearls, he finds one, he sells all that he has and he buys – the
    exceptional pearl.

    What they found came as a result of effort and what they found brought
    them great joy. Why? Because in each case what they found would change life
    for them, for the better, and so what they found is worth everything to them,
    worth selling everything they have to get what they wanted. To them it was
    worth it.
    Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like that. It is unique. It is like
    nothing else we experience in our lives. It provides us with things that nothing
    else can.
    Being part of the Kingdom of Heaven provides us with:
    Understanding in that you know who you are, you are a child of God, whose
    existence is not an accident but someone whose life is a gift from God who
    shares life with you so that you might share love in turn with God. You also
    understand that you are not God and what a wonderful freedom there is in that.
    It means you don’t have to be perfect. God’s planned for that. You just have to
    be faithful.
    And once you know who you are and you know God then you know who
    others are and how to deal with them in a way that is good and decent and right
    that improves the world in which we live.
    Therefore, being part of the Kingdom of Heaven brings righteousness – being
    right with God and others. If there is freedom in giving up the effort to replace
    God with yourself there is a lot of freedom too in knowing you are right with
    God and others.
    Being part of the Kingdom of Heaven brings joy because it also brings healing
    when we need it, consolation in the face of sorrow and hope when there is loss.

    Being part of God’s Kingdom brings power to change the world, one little
    thing at a time. It brings mystery too that transcends this world, this life and
    what a wonderful thing that to be part of something that is far greater than
    yourself, and more wonderful than the world and it is all there for you to
    explore.
    Being part of God’s Kingdom of Heaven brings joy that nothing else comes
    close to providing because it brings promises, certain promises, of greater things
    yet to come that we can’t even imagine but for which we hope.
    Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven is a treasure, a pearl of great price. However, you
    have to look for it, you have to search for it, you have to want to find it. If you
    remember last week’s gospel in which Jesus gave a couple of parables in which
    he said that the Kingdom of Heaven starts as something small, in one case,
    mustard seed and the other was yeast, before it grows into something far more
    noticeable. That means, the Kingdom of Heaven, is sometimes easy to overlook
    because, while it is powerful, it isn’t overpowering.
    Secondly, you have to buy it. You have to pay for it. How? With time. You
    have to spend time with God in prayer, worship, fellowship, and acts of charity.
    You can have a relationship with God without these things but it won’t be a
    great one. It won’t even be a good one. There is no substitute for time spent
    with God.
    You have to give up some pride too. You have to be willing to say to admit
    “God, you are God, and I am not.” You have to be willing to say, “Thy will be
    done.” You need to say, “Forgive me, my trespasses.” To do that, you’ve got to
    give up pride.

    You have to pay with some effort. You have to belong to the Kingdom of
    Heaven by being an intentional, active, and loyal disciple of Jesus Christ. He is
    the one who makes being part of the Kingdom even possible.
    And, you to have sacrifice things too. You can’t have it all. Some things have
    to be left behind to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Finally, you have to buy the whole thing. The man who found the treasure in
    the field didn’t offer to buy three square feet of it. The merchant looking for
    fine pearls didn’t offer to buy half of the exceptional one. The Kingdom of
    Heaven is a total package but you can be sure of this. Whatever price you pay
    to be part of it, it will be the greatest bargain of your life. What we experience
    here of the goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven because we belong to Jesus
    Christ is only the barest hint of the Kingdom in its fullness that:
    “What no eye has seen,
        what no ear has heard,
    and what no human mind has conceived” these are the things God has prepared
    for those who love him—