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THE BLANK CHEQUE. A reflection for the 17th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 26 Jul 2020

Readings: 1Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Rm 8:28-30; Mat 13:44-52

    At the end of Matthew's long day of parables, the Gospel now invites us to share the joy of seeking, finding, and owning the "treasure." Today, "the kingdom of heaven projects to us "like a treasure." Again and again, Jesus' expression, "the kingdom of heaven is like…" serves as a refrain. His emphasis centers on what an invaluable discovery it is for one to find and choose the reign of God, and be inside the priceless joy that flows with it.

   The treasure of being on God's side overwhelms everyone who discovers it. In the several instances of Jesus' teachings on the kingdom, he refers to it as the narrow path and the path of life. Today, Jesus describes finding the will of God as "a pearl of great value. He also notes that it spreads out like the fisherman's "dragnet," ready to bring in a haul of all kinds. Jesus reminds the audience never to lose sight of "all these things," which he reveals about God's kingdom. It has a humble beginning, a subtle presence in the world, including the mixed reactions to it. Yet, its usefulness in future times and the judgment that will issue from it on the last day is real. Today, Jesus also asks all of us: Have you understood all these? 

 We can use the example of the first reading to demonstrate an understanding of God's kingdom, nay God's reign in one's life. We remember the life story of David, the great king that ruled Israel. We remember Solomon as part of David's legacy. By circumstances of birth and by reckoning as the fourth child of David, Solomon could have been the least in the succession line of Israel's kingdom. Yet as one who succeeded his father, David, and gave Israel a pride of place among their surrounding nations, today, we learn the great secret of Solomon's success. He, too, did not earn but found the treasure. He got a “blank check!”

  Imagine that the treasury of your country gave a blank check to you on which to write, just what you wished? How much are you likely to request? Again, consider a situation where God encounters you and asks you to name your needs: How will you begin to recount them? How long might the list go? Well, Solomon got that kind of opportunity with providence. It happened in a divine appearance at Gibeon, and Solomon names his needs. But he said to God, "Give me an understanding mind to know your will and to do it for your people!" It is on record, not only in 1Kg 3:5 but also in 2 Chr 1:3-12. Is it still possible today that one can imagine oneself requesting from God, the virtue of love, and the wisdom to rule wisely?

   Every day, people get their chance for love, peace, reconciliation, and grace. But every day, most people also blow their opportunities to amend, heal, reconcile and rebuild what lies broken. How many today ask for the shame, humiliation, disgrace, and even death for their perceived enemies? How shocking, the few who have the nerve and maturity of mind to allow to others, the same honor, privilege, and benefit of the doubt which they arrogate to themselves alone! Knowing our priorities in this life means finding the more significant advantage of God's will for ourselves and others in their diverse circumstances. Do you know where your treasures are? Can you choose wisely? What does the liberty of choice mean?

 By rethinking and asking where our treasures lie, we can begin to name our real priorities in this life. Then we can choose where to place our hearts. Setting our minds totally on the riches of God's will for us is the only thing that helps us to know and appreciate, how indeed, "God turns everything to good for all those who love God" (Rm 8:28). For, when it comes to balancing one's sense of personal liberty with the demands of goodness, then we show our real selves and prove to others, how fair or truthful we are.


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