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Contents: Volume 2 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A –
July 30, 2017



Sunday in



1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. --

6. – (Your reflection can be here!)





Sun. 17 A

Our Gospel parables tell us the importance of obtaining the kingdom of God. It should be our first priority, or rather dong what is right in God's eyes in order to receive and respond to it, should be. Finding a treasure and hiding it then buying the field in which you bury it does not sound quite right to me though, so I am going to leave my comments on the Gospel as a generality and focus on the first reading instead!

This glimpse of Solomon is eye-opening to me. Asking for "an understanding heart" is incredibly surprising especially in one so young. Such maturity is often only seen when one is much, much older and supposedly already wise!

Of course, God's question begs to be answered by each of us... what would we ask of God? Whether we are young or old or somewhere in-between, our answer or almost-answer for that is a really tough question, might be one we visit and re-visit every so often. Objectively, it tells about what we value most, our "treasure", to connect to the Gospel message.

Life changes and so do we. Just look at Solomon. He made some remarkably good and some remarkably bad choices in his lifetime. Perhaps we have, too.

To me, our choices connect to the "wheat and the weeds" of last week's Gospel. As my pastor, Fr. Jack, reminded us, the world has both wheat and weeds, but both grow within us, too. That realization is a sobering jolt of reality or should be, especially for "religious" folks who often perpetuate "righteous indignation" when confronted with someone else's weeds.

Weeds shoot up unexpectedly. Sometimes weeds look like wheat or even beautiful flowers. Weeds can grow really fast. Only God has the patent and the guarantee for an 100% effective weed-stopping program.

Our faith is indeed a treasure. God's mercy toward us is an indescribable gift. Whatever we must do to safeguard them simply has to be part of not only what we ask of God, but also how often we happen to need to be on our knees among our own weeds to do so.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – July 30, 2017

There are many treasures to be found. A friend likes to go "geocaching" which also gives her good outdoor exercise. Some people comb the beach with metal detectors. And Pokemon draws all sorts of strangers into our neighbourhood. It seems like great fun, exercise and socialization.

Other people dream of finding a "Pirate's Treasure" of jewels and gold lost long ago. Or winning the lottery. Or inheriting a fortune.

Jesus tells us today about two people who found a treasure. Not just any old treasure like pearls, but the treasure of the Kingdom of God. They were so excited and happy that they sold everything else and used the proceeds to buy the field and the pearl.

They were joyful with their find. I wonder how many of us appreciate the truth that the Kingdom of God is here - a down-to-earth kingdom of justice and peace, and joy in the Spirit. It is a treasure buried in a field, and an exceedingly valuable pearl.

How do you imagine God's kingdom to be? How did John the Baptizer proclaim it? How does Jesus live it? Is it something that gives you joy? Is it something you are willing to give everything for? This is not "cheap treasure" you can find and take home and live happily ever after.

We might say that this is a "living threasure". One that would become a part of our very be-ing.

As I reflect on this reading I find myself lacking in joyful appreciation of such a great gift. Maybe the words have become too familiar and I've lost my awe. Maybe I'm like a person who finds a treasure but is too distracted or lazy or busy to care. So this precious pearl just sits in a dark pocket, forgotten. And the treasure stays buried out of sight in the weeds of a field. What a tragedy!

What kind of treasure do you look for? What will you do to claim it? How will it change your life?

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When she found one of great value, she went away and sold everything she had and bought it."

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada





Seventeenth Sunday of Ordered Time, July 30, 2017

1st Kings 3:5, 7-12; Responsorial Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-25

The reading from Romans this Sunday is a good place to start. Paul uses a term in his letter to the Romans that has troubled Christianity for nearly two thousand years. The term is predestination. From what Paul writes, it appears that we’re already saved for heaven or condemned to hell depending on God’s choice, not our choices, actions and intentions. For centuries theologians have tried to reconcile the mercy of God with predestination of some to eternal damnation. Wise minds have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to allow God to know all things, past, present, and future while allowing humanity freedom to choose. If God is all knowing, knowing past, present and future in his eternal now, then God knows how we each begin, are, and end up as if it were now. In God’s mind we are among the chosen or among the damned. The question became then how can there be human free will of God’s all knowing (past, present, and future) sees our choices and our final disposition toward his revelation? For pessimists this means, "What’s the use – I’m going to hell anyway!" And for optimists the answer is "I’ve got it made, why worry."

What’s wrong with these theological/philosophical discussions is that it is a human attempt to understand the inner workings of God. I’m reminded of the poet Alexander Pope’s comment in his essay on the Nature of Man. He says, "Presume then not God to scan. The proper study of mankind is man." There are scholars who read Pope’s comment as encouraging us to concentrate solely on human rationality. This would lead us to believe God leaves us alone to our own devices and isn’t part of our living.

Both views miss the mark. The Scriptures – both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Writings – tell us God is with us. In the Old Testament the chosen people thought of God’s intervention as his "loving kindness". That was how the Hebrews experienced God’s presence. A psalm explains this by asking the question: "Can a Mother ever forget her child? Even if a Mother could forget her child, I will never forget you."

In the New Testament, God is experienced as in love with us, as a Father loves us. Well maybe not so much a Father: more of a Dad who longs for, looks up the road to catch a glimpse of an absent, spiteful son returning home. A verse from John’s gospel explains this in the words: "God so loved the world that he sent his only son that we might have eternal life." When Jesus is asked to describe his mission in John’s gospel, he responds, "That you may have life and experience it fully."

In theology of the middle ages St. Anselm (in 1098) thought to answer the question "what was the reason the Son of God became man?" Anselm developed his theology in the context of the feudal customs and morality of the day. If a serf, a servant bound to the land, offended a lord or lady that person must be punished to make up for the offense. This cultural practice certified that the social order would be maintained. In this context, Anselm thought of humanity as serfs of God. When these serfs offended the Lord, punishment was necessary to right the wrong. Thinking of Jesus’s mission in this context, the Incarnated Son of God was sent by God to take the punishment due us, took the punishment for humanity, freeing humanity of the debt they incurred for their sins, both personal and as humanity. Anselm’s theology taught, then, that Jesus was a substitute who took the punishment for the sins of humanity by his trial, passion, and death. Feudal culture of Anselm’s time would not permit a kind lord or lady to forgive offenses unless reparation for the offense were made. It made little to no difference if the offense were serious or minor: punishment must be handed out or it would begin a breakdown of the social and economic system leading to chaos. The system of feudalism was established because of social upheaval at that time in our history. Disobedience could never be overlooked, never forgiven without punishment as a way of repairing the damage done to order. In this thinking the life, teaching, miracles, and death and resurrection of Jesus were about paying a price. So God became a fearsome tyrant, looking to discover our faults and punish us for them. He was merely a feudal lord.

As the feudal system broke down due in large part to the guild system of tradesmen and to the expansion of trade and a merchant culture, the thinking about God demanding reparation, payment for our disobedience did not disappear. It was an easy way of preaching morality.

But God doesn’t need us to behave like subservient slaves. He sent his son as a human like us. In this way, by following the Way of Jesus, we are no longer slaves. We are adopted sons and daughters – no longer slaves. We need God and a relationship with God for our happiness, for our fulfillment. If the God of our Lord Jesus, is like the feudal lords and ladies, then violence is acceptable. If our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, needs armies and manipulation to attract us and prove that he loves us, then we’re in a lot of trouble. A violent, vengeful God is not loved, but feared. Some would insist, quoting from the book of Wisdom that the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. Pity this weak translation into English! Fear of the Lord is not quaking and shaking in terror! Fear of the Lord is experiencing God’s unconditional love and his loving kindness toward us. There is a contemporary Christian song that tells us, "Our God is an awesome God." That is the meaning of "fear of the Lord".

The life and death and resurrection of Jesus are not a price paid. Instead they are a gift given. In this gift, God reveals the depth and completeness of his love for us. The life and death and resurrection of Jesus is not an effort to change God’s mind about us. It is God’s effort to change humanity’s mind about God. It is God’s plan, it is God’s will that humanity, all humanity have fullness of life.

When Paul speaks of predestination he writes not about individual salvation. He tells us "all are called, all are chosen" with the destination of the Banquet Table of the Lord. The arguments about who is saved, is personally predestined to life in heaven or condemned to damnation is an empty speculation getting in the way of the revelation of God’s unconditional love for humanity. In the community of humanity, we can discover God’s love for us. In that love we have meaning and purpose. There we personally uncover our dignity and our worth. No one can rob us of that dignity and worth if we center ourselves in God’s love! But there are those who work day and night to rob us of God’s love.

In the first reading, Solomon asks God for wisdom in governing. Because Solomon asked for God’s gift that would be in service of the people, God granted him every other gift – long life, riches, victory over enemies. The pearl of great price and the treasure buried in the field of the Gospel are like this. Just as Solomon sought to live for the life of his nation rather than his own wealth so also in the parables this Sunday, Jesus tells us when we discover God’s love for us, we like the treasure hunter, or the gem merchant should let go of all else and pursue it. It’s not so much that we renounce the world, that we give up all that we have. It is more that we more and more discover that God’s love for us – both individually and collectively – is the greatest prize. This is a challenge. If we inspect our hearts, if we delve into our minds, if we examine our emotions, we find we are committed to less important things. We are so easily fooled into believing we will be happiest when we accumulate wealth, when we are in charge, when we taste every pleasure. We are fooled into such a belief and often it takes loss of everything we hold dear to realize the emptiness of their attraction. If we look at our intentions as we work, as we play, as we live in our families, as we participate in civil community, as we participate in our church: as we examine our daily living, is the greatest treasure the object of our attention? Do we focus on our relationship with God and through God with all humanity – even those we don’t like or trust – and in God care for God’s dream, God’s creation? Is our greatest treasure subject to rust, deterioration, and decay?

Some continue to believe in the theology of St. Anselm that the gift of life we enjoy is so that we can be tested for our obedience to God’s laws. They think of life only in orientation the Kingdom of Paradise after death. Thinking in this way, the great treasure is only available after death. If this is so, why worry about a relationship with God. We can wait till the last moment and then ‘get right with God’. What a pity to waste our time pursuing what has no lasting value!

The final parable in this Sunday’s gospel is about the net thrown into the sea. That net gathers in all fish. Jesus doesn’t separate the fish until the net has collected all fish of every kind. The diversity of fish is important. Does Jesus intend to speak of this diversity as coming from nationality, language, race, gender, or even religious practices? Of course! This is a universal collection. The good are separated from the bad. What is the criteria by which goodness is distinguished from badness? What makes some righteous, some wicked? The easy answer is the good are those who followed the rules. The difficult and more accurate answer is the good are those who lived pursuing the pearl of great value or buying the field with buried treasure. This life is much more than following minimum rules to squeak into heaven. The Kingdom of God is now – not in some distant unforeseeable future. We grow into goodness or wickedness by our choices, by our actions, by how we allow emotion to govern our sentiments. We are members of the Kingdom of Heaven now and living in the Kingdom brings us to fullness of life. We grow living in the soil of God’s creation, with other humans: by how we share in the economic and cultural life of society: by how we engage with the assembly called together to share, to make Jesus Christ present among us: by how we care for and develop God’s creation. Our gift of life is given so we can discover the treasure and embrace it. It’s about growing into the fullness of God’s love.

Carol & Dennis Keller






An elderly lady in Scotland was so poor her that her neighbours had to support her. They were happy to do this. But what bothered some of them was that her son had gone to America, and had become rich. The mother defended her son, saying: ‘He writes to me every week and always sends me a little picture.’ ‘See,’ she said, ‘I always keep them in my Bible.’ Between the pages of her Bible were hundreds of U.S.A. bank notes, cash galore. The woman had a money treasure in her Bible, but didn’t realise it.

That story, and the stories Jesus told to make his point about belonging to the kingdom of God and doing what God wants, offer us a challenge that we need to take seriously. Let me tell you of one group of people who have responded to that challenge. Over the entrance to a Catholic School in Fiji, there is a large sign which reads: 'Enter to learn. Leave to serve.' That sign proclaims loudly and clearly the values of that school and how it understands its role. That sign is in harmony with the teaching of Jesus today about what matters most. In his message to us Jesus uses a new set of images and comparisons to highlight the things what matter most of all.

Jesus teaches us that the most important and the most urgent thing in life is to find out just what God wants of us, and to do it. This is what he means when he urges us to be as single-minded, as focussed, and as dedicated, as someone who digs up a treasure in a field, re-buries it, and hurries off to buy that field, so that he can have that treasure all to himself. Jesus makes the same point about priorities when he urges us to be as single-minded, as focussed, and as dedicated, as a collector of jewellery, who comes across the finest pearl in the world, and sells all personal possessions in order to acquire it.

King Solomon was one of the most successful kings in Jewish history. He became famous as both a brilliant builder and a wise ruler. Like Jesus, he also strove to know and to do God's will. Unlike Jesus, however, his life-style was not completely faithful to God. It was not totally consistent with his ideals. All too often, like too many other human beings, he gave in to lust and was unfaithful in marriage, and that more than once.

Yet he got the theory right as we learn from the prayer he prays in our First Reading today. He reminds God that he is a young man, unskilled in leadership. So he prays: 'Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?' God heard his prayer by giving him greater wisdom than any ruler before or since. God heard his prayer precisely because the king did not ask for personal gain in any form. He did not, e.g., ask for long life, money, riches, power, or victory over enemies. In asking for wisdom only, it was for the service of others that Solomon prayed, and this unselfish prayer pleased the Lord immensely.

Against this background of the Word of God today, let's return to the aptness of that sign at the entrance to that Catholic school in Fiji: 'Enter to Learn. Leave to Serve'. There's no mention there to the graduating students of leaving to get the job that will get them the most money to spend on themselves. There's no mention there of leaving to join the ever-bigger numbers of human beings, for whom a career path is not about loving and serving others, but about financial rewards, personal satisfaction, comfort and pleasure. The message of that school motto, on the contrary, is to go out from school to make a difference, to serve the well-being of others, to make the world a better place to live in. In other words, to go out and work with God for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth - a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of goodness and love, a kingdom of justice and love, joy and peace. That’s exactly what God wants.

That school’s motto, 'Enter to Learn. Leave to Serve' is an invitation from Jesus Christ not only to those students in Fiji but to you and me as well. How will we hear it? How will we heed it? Will our corner of the world be any better for our being here? Will we make a difference by the quality and the quantity of our unselfishness, our generosity, our loving, our caring, our helping, and our serving? Will we, in fact, want to live with the same sense of purpose as that expressed many years ago by a young man called Stephen Gallet. These are his inspirational words: 'I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.'

In response to the message to us from Jesus our Teacher in our Readings today, will we, in fact, be more determined than ever, to live as true images, true mirrors, true reflections of Jesus Christ to others? Will we, as two of today's colloquial sayings express it, 'just go for it' and 'just do it'? Will we?

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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