COME & SEE
Brief reflections on the week's scripture readings.
The 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - 2020
“The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
(from Mt 13:44-52)
Pondering the Word…
What do you treasure? What would you answer if God came to you tonight and said, “Ask. What shall I give you?” And what treasure would make you willing to give up everything you have?
Solomon asks for a wonderful gift, a noble gift that he might rule the people with justice. Yet, in hindsight, he may have been better off to couple that wisdom with humility. His wisdom (and the riches and fame God also gave him) got the better of him as he aged. He forgot from whence his gift of wisdom came.
The gospel reading today is heartwarming (at least the first verses, before the good and bad fish story!). What wonderful images: happening upon a hidden treasure or always being on the lookout for a greater treasure! “Yes,” we say, “the kingdom of God is such a treasure,” but we might gloss over the part about selling everything we have. Or we might assume Jesus is referring only to material goods. We forget what Jesus had to say just three chapters earlier about our worthiness if we love father and mother more than him.
There are several readings this week from Jeremiah, not the cheeriest of the prophets. He talks a lot about the cost he has incurred for being a prophet for the Lord. I look at myself and my life. What real costs have I incurred? What would I be willing to give up for the kingdom?
Living the Word…
These days, when it is too much of a cost for some to wear masks or avoid crowds to protect themselves and those around them, I have to wonder: how worthy are we of the kingdom? Some presume they know more than those to whom God has granted expertise and knowledge; many think their individual rights take precedence over the common good; and, too many seem to have decided to “put their trust in the sons of man in whom there is no salvation.” (Thursday’s Psalm 146). Each day brings more puzzlement about those who call themselves Christian who won’t follow basic hygiene rules in order to send some bogus political message! We all could use a good dose of humility, myself included. Reinhold Niebuhr’s classic prayer asks God for serenity, to accept things I cannot change, courage, to change what I can, and wisdom, to know the difference. I’d like to add “humility, to know my wisdom will never be enough. Lord, give me a humble heart.” Use this prayer as a basis to record actual things in your life for which you could use some serenity, courage, wisdom, and humility.
Mon, Jul 27: The LORD said: “Go buy yourself a linen loincloth… and put it on. (Then) take the loincloth…and hide it in a cleft of the rock.”…Again I went and sought out and took the loincloth from the place where I had hid it. But it was rotted, good for nothing! (Jer 13:1-11)
What would be a modern equivalent of a loincloth, something of God so close and intimate? The word “hope” comes to mind. If I don’t care for my spirit through prayer and spending time with God, hope can get buried and be unavailable to me when I need it. But unlike Jeremiah’s loincloth, we can reinvigorate and resurrect our hope through renewed prayer and faith. Does hope seem buried these days? Sit in prayer. Ask God for the gift of hope. Look around to find at least one sign of hope to journal about each day.
Tue, Jul 28: “Recall, do not breach your covenant with us. Can the empty breath of the nations yield rain, and the heavens, can they give showers?” (Jer 14: 21-22, Hebrew translation)
The land has been devoured by drought. The prophets and priests wander aimlessly. But fear not: God will never breach God’s covenant. We have to change, to hold up our end of the covenant, to love God by loving one another—no exceptions—and to live in that love. A drought of love is devouring the earth and people are dying due to the empty breath of those in power. Yes, “Let our eyes shed tears” but then give us to courage to change.
Wed, Jul 29: “When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy, the happiness of my heart…Under the weight of your hand you filled me with indignation…You have become for me a treacherous brook…” (Jer 15:10. 16-21) Our friend Jeremiah goes from being joyful at receiving God’s word to being miserable because of it. He is rejected, he rues being born, and a few chapters later, he accuses God of duping him. While the Book of Jeremiah is NOT one I recommend to those looking for hope, it does provide a stark view of what working for the Kingdom might actually be like IF we are willing to incur the cost. What can you learn from Jeremiah’s story?
Thu, Jul 30: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” (Mt 13:47-53)
This verse brings Pope Francis to mind. Some Catholics see him as too “liberal,” too focused on social justice and not enough on tradition and ritual. Hello! Isn’t this exactly what the elders accused Jesus and his disciples of? It’s puzzling. Francis is not bringing out anything new from the Vatican storerooms—just dusting off some foundational tenets that have been downplayed or ignored for the sake of the status quo. Is he putting the teachings of Jesus into new, modern language for today’s world? Yes. Looking at the spirit of what Jesus taught rather than dotting all the ‘Is’ and crossing all the ‘Ts?’ Perhaps. Not abandoning the law, but trying to get us understand what it really means to fulfill it? What is your opinion? It seems to me those critical of him, even to the point of accusing him of heresy, worship their religion--worship their worship--more than they worship Christ, the one who makes ALL things new. Do not let our “many altars to expiate sin become occasions of sin.”
Fri, Jul 31: “They took offense at him.” (Mt 13:54-58) (Celebrate St. Ignatius of Loyola’s feast day—do an examen!)
At what did the Nazoreans take offense? Were they jealous of Jesus’ newfound wisdom and knowledge? Nazareth was a quiet, backwoods town, far from the fray of Jerusalem. It might be as simple and as typical as this: they didn’t want to change. They didn’t want any notoriety, to have the Romans show up, or to hear what they needed to do differently, particularly from this hometown upstart. “Leave us alone to live out our lives in quiet desperation.” I hear people talking now about getting back to “normal.” “Normal” is what got us here, folks! It’s time for major change which is why so many take offense at modern-day prophets. Think about it.
Sat, Aug 1: The priests and prophets said to the princes and people, “This man deserves death,” Jeremiah gave his answer, thereupon the princes and people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve death…”Ahikam protected Jeremiah so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.” (Jer 26:11-16, 24)
It sounds like the people are allowing themselves to be whipsawed. In v. 9, they mob Jeremiah, ready to kill him at the first accusation of the priests and prophets. Then Jeremiah puts up his defense and the people align with the princes. But we hear someone has to protect Jeremiah from the mob who again wants to put him to death. How foolish they are, blindly following the counsel of whoever has the microphone! Why don’t they stop being so riled up, take off the blinders, and think for themselves? Where is their individual conscience? Why do they “put their trust in the sons of men in whom there is no salvation?”
Elaine Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life. She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children, David and Maggie.
We hope you enjoy "Come and See!" and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at email@example.com with questions, comments, and responses.
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