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Homily for the seventeenth Sunday, year A.

27 Jul 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Solomon’s Wisdom was and is still unrivaled; God promises that none before or after Solomon will be as wise as he. The queen of Sheba came all the way to test the Wisdom of Solomon with hard questions (1 Kg: 10), and she marveled at a depth of Solomon’s wisdom.

Solomon’s Wisdom did not come about as a result of studies; he did not go to any school to acquire it; it was a gift. The Lord appeared to him in a dream and said to him; Ask what you would like me to give you. Like an open cheque, the question was an opportunity to write whatever figure he wanted, but he did not ask for millions of dollars. Solomon asked for wisdom, the wisdom to govern the people entrusted to him, and the little money he has. His request pleased God, and he said to him; Since you have asked for this and not asked for long life for yourself or riches or the lives of your enemies, but have asked for a discerning judgment for yourself, here and now I do what you ask. I give you a heart wise and shrewd as none before you has had, and none will have after you. God instantly granted Solomon’s wish because of what he asked for; here and now, I grant your heart desires. This is similar to what Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross, today you will be with me in paradise.

There’s something in Solomon’s request that pleased God so much; there is something in it that made God answered Solomon immediately and beyond his expectations. God was pleased because Solomon was not selfish in his request; he did not ask for earthly things but wisdom. The dying thief on the cross did not ask Jesus to stop his death but to welcome him into paradise. The question this morning therefore is, what do you want? What are you asking of God? What do you consider a treasure? In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus taught the people in parables about treasure. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a hidden treasure in a field that someone has found; he hides it back and sells everything he owns and buys the field. Again, he said the kingdom of God is like a merchant who, in search of fine pearls, finds one and sells everything to get it. Thirdly, he compared the kingdom of heaven with a dragnet, which brings in a haul of all kinds.

The first two parables are very similar; both the one who found the treasure hidden in the field and the merchant who searched and found a fine peal valued what they found more than what they had. They had to sell everything to get the treasure they found. They considered what they found to be more valuable than every other thing, just as Solomon valued wisdom more than every other material thing. The treasure they found in Jesus’ parable is the kingdom of heaven; they sacrificed everything for it. The kingdom of heaven is the real treasure, the treasure we often don’t think about, a forgotten treasure, yet the most important. I am not trying to disregard the necessities of other things in life; wisdom is valuable, just like riches, good health, and so many other good things of life. But these things must not be valued over and above the kingdom of God; they must work together to lead us to the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

We cannot be too busy pursuing wealth to have no time for the God who grants prosperity; we cannot be too busy with anything to ignore God. If whatever we call treasure stands between us and the kingdom of God, then that thing is not a treasure. If your wealth is standing between you and the kingdom of God, then your wealth has no value. The characters in the first two parables this morning sold off every other thing in their lives that is not of value to buy the real treasure. That is what God wants from us, to sell off those things in our lives that are becoming obstacles in our way to heaven. To sell off those bad habits, doubt, the spirit of prayerlessness, the spirit of fear, and all other attitudes that do not glorify God. They are all hindrances; they are of no value.

God has given every one of us the grace to work with; my grace is enough for you, he says. Solomon had the grace; before he was blessed with that great wisdom, he at least had some wisdom to make the right choice. The two characters in the first two parables had the wisdom to identify the real treasure before buying it. God has also given us the grace to know the truth, so the choice is ours.

What do you want? What do you treasure most in your life? As Jesus said in the third parable today, we must remember that the kingdom of God is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. That is how it will be on the last day, those who valued the kingdom of God over and above every other thing will be put in the basket of life while those who valued other things above the kingdom of God will be thrown away into the lake of fire where there will be gnashing of teeth.