17th Sunday Homily (Year A)
A few months ago, I read a news of a 13-year-old boy in Cebu Philippines who committed suicide for the reason that his mother did not buy him a laptop computer. Reading that I felt so sad and upset. I didn’t blame anyone though, because I realized that it was not anyone’s fault. It’s a symptom however of our materialistic society. Many people think that material thing is all that is. Many believe that material things can really make us happy and contented. Not a few people think that money is all that we need because through it, we can get everything that we need or want.
But we know, we who are here today don’t really believe that material things are all that we need, do we? If we do, we would not have been here. We are here because we believe as our faith- experience tells us that there is more to our life than material things. We are here, I hope and pray, because we are looking for that treasure of the kingdom that would really guarantee us of eternal happiness, real contentment and complete satisfaction.
In our Gospel today Jesus tells us another set of parables about the kingdom of God-a priceless treasure, that once it is found, we would consider all other things as mere shadows. But what is this treasure? What is this kingdom of God?
It is the kingdom of love, of peace, of justice, of solidarity, of sharing, of making God as the centre of our life…The point in our gospel today, is for us to seek for this kingdom. But where? Jesus said, the kingdom of God is among us now, is within us. So let’s look at our heart. What are our priorities? If we feel sad hearing the news of starvation in Somalia, it’s the sign of the Kingdom of solidarity and of justice. If we feel sorry for that boy who took his own life because he couldn’t get a laptop, it’s a sign of the Kingdom that we want God to be focus of our life rather than things. And as we read the papers everyday, we are in some ways moved to reflect on some of the events happening around us. But reading or reflecting on these things are not enough. We have to do something. As I mentioned last week, each one of us is given a ‘seed’ of the kingdom. Let’s work from there. Let’s develop it, share it, make it bear fruit.
But to do it in our time, is quite a challenge. Because there is another kingdom that is in opposition to the Kingdom of God-the kingdom of Satan. Satan is real and he is working now, more than ever. He even seems to have succeeded in some ways. Sin becomes so rampant now, that as John Paul II observes, leading us to believe that doing ‘it’ is just normal and part of our ordinary human life. The late Pope said, because of this reality of sin pervading in the individuals and in the structures, we lose the sense the sin. We are experiencing the eclipse of sin.
But seeing us here today in this Eucharistic celebration is a sign of hope that still we seek for the Kingdom of God, that we want to promote the kingdom of God, that we want to defeat the forces of evil around us.
But what can we do? What do we do then?
Three things: First, more than ever, we need the wisdom of Solomon to help us discern the Kingdom of God from the kingdom of satan; to discern between good and evil; between right and wrong; between truth and lie; between life and death. Let’s pray that God would grant us this same wisdom.
We need Jesus in defeating the evil forces us. He stood for the truth, no matter what happens, even if he was standing alone, even if it led him to his death. Let’s keep close to his side.
And finally we need to do something to help those people who are really in need, not only of our prayers which is the first thing, but also because we have the means and the ways to do this. We have Caritas, Red Cross, St Vinnies, Catholic Mission, etc. God gives us these ways and these means NOT to put burden on us, but to enable us to share in promoting the kingdom of God here on earth. Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will be provided. Amen.