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July 30, 2017 - God is a Giver

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I wish that today’s first reading was read prior to last Sunday’s reading from the book of Wisdom. Today’s reading recounts the story of God’s gift of wisdom given to Solomon. The book of Wisdom was written after God gave Solomon the gift of Wisdom. 

My three points in the homily today are unrelated. Between the parables over the last two weekends and today’s readings, my prayer and reflection have led to the following points.

  1. God is a Giver. In today’s first reading, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and gave him the opportunity to ask for something. Solomon sought an “understanding heart.” Solomon got what he asked for… and more. God is a giver. God is not a taker. God is a giver. Throughout salvation history God is a giver. Creation and everything in it, human life and everything that comes with it, love and its thrills, goodness and contentment… these are all given to us by God. God’s greatest gift to us was Jesus. Moreover, as today’s second reading says, “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.” Heaven itself is given to us. God constantly gives. Often in life, we lose perspective of our gifts. Often our focus can be on that which we do not still have. I am proposing that this week, pray and focus on the things that God has given. We may have much to be grateful for. It would be foolish not to focus on God's gift. 
  1. Judgement is God's. Over the last two weekends and this weekend, we have heard six parables. There are two of them that particularly caught my attention: the parable of the wheat and and the weeds and the parable of the fishes in the net. In the first parable, weeds grew in the field where the farm-owner only sowed wheat. The workers in the field wanted to weed out the field. However, the owner warned them to wait until harvest to separate the weeds and the wheat. In today’s parable of the various kinds of fish in the net, Jesus compared the separation of the good and bad fish to the end times when the righteous will be separated from the wicked. This teaches me a very important lesson. Judgement belongs to God. God is one who will separate the wicket from the righteous. Like the workers in the field, I am am often tempted to judge people. I am very inclined to separate the righteous from the wicked and burn those that I consider evil. The parables tell me that judgement is none of my business. It would be foolish to judge people. Judgement is God’s prerogative. My work is to toil hard in God’s field and leave judgement to God. 
  1. Foolishness is Costly. Solomon was only the third king of Israel. In spite of the wisdom gifted to him, Solomon acted foolishly and became unfaithful to God. He acted foolishly in two areas. First, he employed the Canaanites as forced laborers, and in this way did what the Egyptians had done to the Israelites. Second, he took about 700 wives and 300 concubines. Many of them were from the neighboring cultures. To please these women, he erected altars to their alien gods. He was personally involved in the construction of some of these shrines. This was in direct violation of the first commandment. His actions finally led to the division of the kingdom of Israel. How could Solomon be so foolish?  What happened to the wisdom God gave him? What happened to his “understanding heart?” There is a lesson for us in this tragic story. God is a giver. However we can lose it all because of our own foolishness. We can destroy creation by our foolishness. We can waste a life-time in foolish pursuits. We can lose the people we love if we act foolishly. Like Solomon we can lose God's gifts because of foolishness. We can lose faith and salvation because of foolishness. 

The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a gift. With grateful hearts, let us worship God, the giver of all good things. To God, in whom justice and mercy meet, be all glory and honor. Amen.  

- Fr. Satish Joseph