“What Sounds Good Today, Fishing or Treasure Hunting?!” – Matthew 13:44-52†


 

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Gospel Reflection
  • Reflection Psalm
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

On this date, in1935, the “dust bowl” heat wave reached its peak.  Temperatures of 109°F (44°C) in Chicago and 104°F (40°C) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were recorded.  It is SOooooo HOT in St. Louis, Missouri, look what happened to the local Ice Cream Truck:

 

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1380 – Birth of Johannes van Capestrano, Italian saint
†   1594 – Death of John Boste, Catholic saint and martyr [one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales] (b. 1544)

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

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Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“Your treasure – your perfection – is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”~ Quote from book, “Eat, Pray, Love

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

(NAB Matthew 13:44-52)  44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.  49 Thus it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  51 “Do you understand all these things?”  They answered, “Yes.”  52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

 

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Today’s Gospel concludes three weeks of readings from the 13th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.  Throughout these three weeks we have “heard” Jesus teaching the crowds gathered around Him, about the kingdom of heaven.  We have also “heard” Jesus interpret some of His teachings for His faithful disciples.  In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus offers three more short parables: the parables of the “treasure”, the “pearl”, and the “fishnet”.

The first two of these last three parables have the same point: the person who finds a buried treasure and the merchant who finds a pearl (a treasure in itself) of great price, sell all they have to acquire their finds.  Similarly, the one who understands the supreme value of God’s kingdom will give up whatever he/she must in order to obtain that divine kingdom.  The extreme “JOY” with which the action of the “finders” react is explicit and very clear in the first parable; it is presumed in the second one as well.

The third parable of the fishnet reminds me of Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the weeds.  Its emphasis is on the final exclusion of “evil” people from the kingdom of God on this earth.  Imagine that – – no more relly evil people on this earth.  (No more political correctness!!)

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So, what do you treasure the most in your life?; and how secure is your treasure?  The man in today’s reading finds a “buried treasure” in a field he did not own.  Who buries their treasures?  Was Captain Hook around Jerusalem in Jesus’ time?  Well, it seems that in the polarized, and sometimes wildly unsettled and barbaric conditions of first-century Palestine, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground.  In an agricultural community, the best “safe” was often the “earth” itself.   (After all, banks basically were none-existent; and the modern mattress was yet to be invented.)

The man in the parable went “in his joy” to sell everything.  Why?  Because he found a treasure worth possessing above all else he had.  After finding the treasure, he wanted the entire field!  He sold everything he possessed in order to obtain this ONE thing more valuable than anything he ever processed.

In similar fashion, God offers His kingdom as an incomparable treasure at a price we all can afford!  We can’t pay any price for the eternal life which God offers us; but when we exchange our life, by believing in His “treasure”, we receive and own the life which is God’s.  We receive a treasure beyond compare to any treasure or wealth on earth.

Now, the “pearl of great price” also imparts a lesson similar to the buried treasure.  Pearls in the ancient world came to represent a supreme value.  Jesus remarked that one “should not cast pearls before swine”:

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. “ (Matthew 7:6).

Why would a merchant sell everything for a first-class pearl?  I am certain it was because he was attracted to what “he thought” was the greatest treasure he could ever possess in his lifetime.  We need to realize that God’s love and mercy is beyond any treasures we can amass on earth.

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In the first parable (verse 44), Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure really worth possessing – –  even if it means giving up everything else.  In the second parable (verse 45), Jesus proposes that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great worth, so valuable that the “finder” will sell everything else just to possess this one item.  These parables have a profound and certain personal moral lesson for each of us.  Jesus, in these two parables, teaches us that we are to place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

The third parable Jesus offers in today’s Gospel is distinctive from the first two.  The first two talk about YOU searching for a “treasure”.  The third points out that GOD is searching for you.  That’s why Jesus compares a fisherman, fishing with a net, to God searching for good “fish”.  Notice, it’s God who’s looking for US!!

Then, after the fish (us) have been collected, the good fish are kept and the bad fish are thrown away.  So too, in the final judgment – – “at the end of the age” – – will the “wicked” and the “righteous” be separated.

 

What can a story of a fishnet and its immense catch of fish tell us about God’s kingdom?  The two most common ways of fishing in Jesus’ time was with a casting-net (hand net) which was thrown from the shore and the dragnet (fishnet or trawl) which was a larger net, used from a boat.  As the boat moved through the waters the drag-net was drawn into the shape of a great cone.  This large net indiscriminately captured all sort and sizes of fish in its path.  It usually took several men to haul such a net to shore.

What is Jesus’ point in this parable?  I believe it is this: just as a dragnet catches every kind of fish in its path, so the Catholic Church acts as God’s “fishing net” for gathering in all who will come into its path towards God’s kingdom.  Just as the dragnet does not, cannot, discriminate, so too the Catholic Church does not (or should not) discriminate between the good and bad “fish”.

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Discovering God’s kingdom is like stumbling across a “hidden treasure” or finding the “pearl of great price”.  When we discover the kingdom of God, we receive the greatest possible treasure one can ever claim – the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  Selling all we have to obtain the treasure of His kingdom – – a kingdom without equal and beyond compare – – could mean many things in our lives.  The treasures of His kingdom could be our friends, our job or vocation, our “style of life”, what we do with our free time, and treasures we are not even aware of as we live in, with, and through Christ dwelling within each of us.

The item or value we set highest in our hearts and on our souls is our highest “treasure”.  In today’s parables, to what does the treasure of the kingdom refer?  I believe it refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects.  However, in a very special and unique way, Jesus Christ himself is the “true” “treasure” we should search for:

Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heartIf you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; if you put iniquity far from your tent, and treat raw gold like dust, and the fine gold of Ophir as pebbles from the brook, then the Almighty himself shall be your gold and your sparkling silver.  For then you shall delight in the Almighty and you shall lift up your face toward God.”  (Job 22:22- 26).

Is the Lord Almighty the “true” “treasure and pearl” the “delight” of your heart?

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On another topic of importance, Jesus asks His disciples a fascinating, yet simple, question:

Do you understand all these things?” (Matthew 13:51)

Matthew, throughout his Gospel, frequently speaks of the “understanding” of the disciples.  Matthew mentions the concept of “understanding” the message twenty-one times throughout his Gospel.

Matthew is always calling into question the Apostles understanding of Jesus’ parables and moral points.  The Holy Spirit then inspires us to hear Matthew’s questions as spoke to each of us, personally.  So, do you ever call into question your own understanding of the Lord’s parables?  Do you ask for the grace to understand the Holy Scriptures?

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There is an interesting difference concerning disciples and Apostles from Matthew’s perspective, and the perspectives from Luke and Mark.  Matthew tends to identify “the disciples and the Twelve” as one group, whereas Luke (cf., Luke 6:13) and Mark (cf., Mark 4:10, 34) distinguished between the “Twelve” (Apostles) and a larger group also termed “disciples”, Matthew unified the “disciples and the Twelve”.  In Luke and Mark, the “Twelve” stood alone.  They would have the full authority of the “true” Scribe, Jesus Himself:

Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Matthew 13:52).

They share in His proclamation of the kingdom (cf., Matthew 10:7), and would be commissioned to teach after Jesus’ resurrection and after being fully instructed by Him (cf., Matthew 28:20), and then fully filled with the Holy Spirit, 50 days after His Resurrection (Pentecost)..

 

While the “Twelve” are in many ways representative of all who believe in Him, they are also distinguished from “all believers” in certain respects.  The church of Matthew had leaders among who are a group designated as “scribes”:

Behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.” (Matthew 23:34)  

And like the scribes of Israel, they are teachers and experts of Mosaic Law.   It is the “Twelve Apostles” and these, their later counterparts, to whom this verse (verse 52) applies.  The scribe, who had been instructed in the kingdom of heaven, knows both the teaching of Jesus (the “new”) and the Mosaic Law and teachings of the prophets (the “old”).  With the knowledge of both, Matthew provides – – in his own teaching – – both the new, and the old as interpreted and fulfilled by the new.  Jesus, in the “parable of the fishnet” is instructing the early Christian community on how to proceed in the interpretation of Jewish law with respect to Jesus’ “new” teaching.  Jesus’ insights and teachings about the kingdom of heaven do not replace the Jewish tradition; He interprets it (the old) in a profoundly different and beautiful “new” light.

 

The translation of “head of a household” uses the same Greek word translated to “householder” in last Sunday’s “parable of the weeds”, found in Matthew 13:27:

“The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?  Where have the weeds come from?’” (Matthew 13:27)

In Matthew’s first-century church, the “servant” had been put in charge of his “master’s” (Jesus Christ) household:

Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?” (Matthew 24:45).

This administrative design of manager and worker was established even though his “household” (Matthew’s church) was composed of many people who are Jesus’ fellow servants and equal in God’s eyes in the kingdom.

Today’s Gospel concluded with the statement about the “scribe” who understands the kingdom of heaven.  I believe Jesus is offering a metaphor: this “scribe”, who is “like the head of a household” who “brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,” is our Catholic Church leaders, the Magisterium.  

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In summary, like the two “lucky” people in today’s parables who found the “buried treasure” and the “pearl of great price”, we should also search to find signs of the kingdom of heaven in our lives.  In fact, we should even oft times work hard to bring about God’s kingdom in our actions, our thoughts, and in our words.  I believe those reading this reflection pray often for your values to reflect your fervent pursuit of the kingdom of heaven.  As Jesus’ disciples, we should place everything we value in the assistance and advantage for pursuing the Kingdom of God.  Rule #11 of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) states:

Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly.  Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs.  Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.” (SFO Rule #11)

 

Let me ask, what are your values?  Make a list of those things you consider most important, such as family, friends, faith, trust, and love.  Place this list before you as you re-read and reflect today’s Gospel.  Remember, in today’s parables, Jesus taught us IT IS worth giving up valuable things in order to possess the kingdom of heaven.  Since Jesus has taught us, He considers us true “Scribes” in His kingdom.

Look at the list of your values and think about how these things are important in the kingdom of heaven.  What have you given up to make these values important in your life?  What can you give up to make these values more important and more prominent in your life?  As Jesus’ disciples, we should place everything we value in the assistance and advantage in pursuing the Kingdom of God in our day and time.

 

God’s kingdom is open to all who will accept and believe his testimony about Jesus Christ.  It is not for us to separate the flock.  A time of separation, at the “end of the age” will really take place.  At that time, God’s angels will separate the bad from the good and send them to their respective destinations.  Our duty as Catholic Christians is to gather “into the net” all who will come into our path.  In the end, God will give the good and the bad the reward they deserve.  Are you ready to go fishing or treasure hunting?

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Reflection Psalm:

 

Psalm 119

(The law of the Lord is more precious than silver and gold.)

 

My portion is the LORD; I promise to keep your words.  Teaching from your lips is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.  May your love comfort me in accord with your promise to your servant.  Show me compassion that I may live, for your teaching is my delight.  Truly I love your commands more than the finest gold.  Thus I follow all your precepts; every wrong way I hate.  Wonderful are your decrees; therefore I observe them.  The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

During the Preparation of the Gifts, the prayers of the priest have several changes, but the only change for the assembly is the addition of the word “Holy” to the response just before the Prayer over the Offerings.  Where we now say, “for our good and the good of all his Church,” the new text says, “for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Kunigunde (1224-1292)

 

When Pope John Paul II traveled to his native Poland in June 1999, he fulfilled a long-held dream to canonize Kunigunde, a Polish princess whose elevation to sainthood had been stalled for many years because of political conditions.  Celebrating the momentous event with him were half a million people who gathered in a field outside the small town of Stary Sacz.

Kunigunde, or Kinga, was born in 13th-century Hungary into a royal family distinguished for its political power as well as its holy women.  Her aunts included St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Hedwig and St. Agnes of Prague; numbered among her siblings are the Dominican St. Margaret and Blessed Yolande.

When only 15, Kunigunde became engaged to the man who was to become the next King of Poland: Boleslaus V.  Upon their marriage, the two took vows of chastity before the bishop and lived out their promises during their 40 years of married life.  Meanwhile, Queen Kunigunde undertook the care of her young sister and spent many hours visiting the sick in hospitals.  As the First Lady of Poland she was ever attentive to the welfare of her people and their special needs.

When King Boleslaus died in 1279, the people urged the queen to take over the reins of government, but she wished to consecrate herself wholly to God.  For 13 years she lived the simple life of a Poor Clare nun, residing at a convent she and her husband had established.  Ultimately she was elected abbess, and governed with charity and wisdom.  She died a peaceful death, surrounded by her loving sisters.  Many miracles are said to have occurred at her tomb.

In 1715, Pope Clement XI chose her as the special patron of Poles and Lithuanians.

Comment:

Kunigunde must have learned at home the charity that won her canonization.  Perhaps it was the generosity of her sainted aunts that impressed her; more likely she picked it up from her immediate family. In any case, she cared for others’ needs even as a teenage bride.  The virtue of charity, like faith, is more caught than taught.  If youngsters see us responding to poverty and suffering, chances are they will follow in our footsteps.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Joy

 

What essential requisites do I need to develop to be able to share St. Francis’ opinion of “perfect joy”?

Is “joy” the result of everything going my way – all going well and smoothly?  How does my idea “joy” compare with St. Francis’?

Nehemiah says: “Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”  Do we rejoice in the Lord enough while in prayer?

As Franciscans, how can anything or anyone destroy our joy in the Lord? (we must always be on-guard)

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 24 & 25 of 26:

24.  To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.

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25.  Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.

 

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