Here's my homily for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary time reflecting on the "Kingdom of Heaven"
You can read the Sunday readings on which it is based HERE
I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions the the Comments boxes below
In our modern consumer culture we are preoccupied with the price of things.
We are always looking for the bargain, the discount, the deal.
Critics have observed that this is so pervasive that we end up making price the arbiter of nearly every question
...offering that we risk becoming a people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Maybe our experiences with COVID 19 offers us an opportunity to reflect on and question that.
Today’s Gospel poses a question right at the heart of this matter.
Someone digging in a field, and a merchant, find something that motivates them to sell all that they have to acquire it.
What would we be motivated to pay such a price for?
Jesus points to the “kingdom of heaven” as just such a thing.
The challenge is that this Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God as other Gospels put it, is a mysterious and obscure notion for us.
We have heard the words many times…
“Repent for the Kingdom of God, is at hand.”
“My Kingdom is not of this world.”
“The Kingdom of God is like...mustard seeds, weeds, and the like”
How sinners and late arrivals can enter before the righteous.
And then we pray each day that, “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So what are we praying for anyway?
Well as they say, “It’s complicated”...yet it’s simple at the same time.
What we are praying for
...what we are asking to come, now and in the eternal future,
...is a new reality.
It’s a new reality, not of this world,
...but one that would operate on a different logic or calculus
...by the logic and calculus of God, who the Christians have come to understand as love.
Seeking this Kingdom, helping to make this new reality present among us
...is the life work of a Christian.
This new reality has implications for all life, how we live, how we live together and the destiny that we share as a result.
Jesus pointed out that the Kingdom was in our “midst”.
Pope Benedict offered that the Kingdom was first of all to be found in our “inner being”.
We believe that the Spirit of the God who is Love dwells there
..and from there we are to let it radiate out like the ripples in a pond,
...to the people and circumstances that make up our lives.
Benedict also noted that you couldn’t find the kingdom on any map.
Even on Google I suppose
...but in radiating out from us like those ripples on the pond it does create some space in real time on this planet.
We can tell from the Gospels what this is supposed to look like.
The Lord Jesus told us and showed us.
We can hear it in the Sermon on The Mount where we as Christians are called here and now
humility and compassion and mercy
righteousness and forgiveness
to be truthful and faithful
to love of enemies and praying for persecutors
not retaliating or judging others
fasting, praying always and trusting in God
in all things treating others as we ourselves would wish to be treated.
This is how the kingdom of God breaks into this world
...through you and me.
Do any among us think that we don’t need more of this
...that this kingdom doesn’t need to come...here...now?
Also, does anyone here think that we, personally, each one of us, doesn’t have a lot of work to do here, to do a better job.
Without a shadow of doubt, I KNOW I, do and have a lot to repent of.
That is of course is one of the reasons why we need to do this all together as a community, as a Church.
Together we can strengthen and magnify the presence of the Kingdom.
All that we do together here with the Lord in word and sacrament are to unite us to the Lord for this
...build us up so that we can take this road, do our part to make the Kingdom come.
Lord knows, these days with all the “issues” that we have as a church, it sometimes is hard for to see ourselves, as a church, intended for such a high and good purpose
...but yet we are
...and we can’t forget it.
Maybe part of the problem, the root of our current problems as a church
...comes precisely from forgetting this
...and losing sight of the Lord’s back on this road.
Finally there is the really BIG picture.
Referring to the Kingdom often as the Kingdom of Heaven
...Matthew’s gospel reminds us of the destiny this Kingdom business calls us to
...a life lived for the Kingdom
...rising to dwell eternally present to the God who is love
...in a completely remade reality, beyond our current imagination
...where all has been made right
...and there is nothing between us and that joy that we were created for in the first place.
So, in the end, maybe, that field and that pearl truly are worth the price
...both now and in the Kingdom to come.