Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 24, 2011 – 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Kings 3:5-12 Rom 8:28-30 Mt 13:44-52

The following is one part in a series of fictional dialogs between second century catechumen, Respecta, and her teacher, Petras.

Respecta sat among her fellow catechumens following the homily one Sunday. She was confused by the parable that Jesus spoke and was not the least bit shy about saying so.

“Petras, I don’t understand this parable at all! After all ‘finders, keepers; losers, weepers.’ Why would finding a treasure in a field be bad news?”

“Well,” Petras replied, “it isn’t so much that finding the treasure is bad news. The danger is that finding the treasure could be good news or it could place the finder in great jeopardy. You see, if you bought a field in first century Palestine and then found a treasure, it won’t necessarily belong to you.”

“What!?”

“Yes. You need to understand that in that part of the world, people buried their precious belongings in order to safeguard them from thieves who might break into their homes and steal. So, if someone sold a field and forgot about his treasure buried there, the finder could not keep it under the law. It belongs to the original owner. But, if the treasure’s owner died or no one came forward to claim it, it might belong to the buyer. You can imagine what a quandary that would put the new owner in. Even his neighbors would report him if the new owner suddenly became more wealthy without a good explanation. They would think he stole the treasure.”

“Well, I never considered that possibility. What about the merchant who sold everything to own the precious pearl? That sounds like terrific news. Is there a downside to this vignette, too?”

“Yes, Respecta, you’ve definitely caught onto the paradox in today’s parables. If the merchant sold everything to own the great pearl, how would he afford to buy food or pay taxes? He could starve to death simply to own the pearl, and then what good would it do him?”

Respecta looked puzzled, so Petras continued, “Finding the kingdom of God is always good news, right? It means that someone has discovered the good news of God’s love and plan for his life. For Christians, this means that we understand that Jesus embodied the good news in his life and his message, and it means that we can find salvation in Jesus Christ. However—and this is a big ‘but’—knowing this good news means that we must live by Jesus’ teachings. We can be condemned by failing to enact the good news in our own lives!”

“Oh, my! I see what you mean. Finding the Kingdom of God is risky if we are not fully committed to loving God and loving our neighbors as Jesus did. That must be why Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a net that catches good and bad fish alike. I can see how easy it might be to even fool ourselves into believing that we are “good fish.” We might come to Eucharist every week and give to the poor, but we might also be harboring resentments and be unforgiving toward someone who has offended us. Living out all of Jesus’ teachings and imitating him in all of our relationships is very challenging.”

“Yes, Respecta, being a Christian is extremely challenging. St. Paul reminds us of this in the letter to the Romans where he says that God ‘predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son.’ I like to think that becoming a Christian is like a process, like baking a cake. We mix all the ingredients together, but it is not a cake until it sits in the oven to rise and cook. Becoming a Christian means acknowledging Jesus as our savior, but it is not full Christianity if we simply know Christian beliefs and praise God’s name. We must learn to live and love as Christ did if we hope to conform our hearts and our lives to the image of Jesus. He is the pattern of Christian living.”

“Then, isn’t Christianity doomed to fail, Petras? How can we hope to imitate Christ in everything?”

“I’ll share the answer that helped me answer that question when I was young. The answer is, ‘It only takes a lifetime!’ In other words, don’t look for perfection today; just keep striving to become as good and loving as Jesus every day until the Spirit perfects Its work in you. Then instead of focusing on making yourself perfect, you can trust that the Holy Spirit will accomplish in you what you cannot do by yourself. The work of becoming a Christian is a partnership between you and God. And God can be trusted to do what is good and beautiful and perfect in you.”

“Thank you, Petras. Somehow, you seem to read my heart and know how to put me at peace on this journey into Christianity.”

Reflection question: Is there a part of my life that is not yet fully conformed to Jesus yet? What can I do about it?

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons

co2balance

About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.

Followers