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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 30 July 2023
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 >><}}}}*> Romans 8:28-30 >><}}}}*> Matthew 13:44-46
Photo by author, San Juan, La Union, 24 July 2023.

We are now in the final installment of Jesus Christ’s parables this third consecutive Sunday of his teachings on the kingdom of heaven. It is hoped by this time we have learned and realized God is the only treasure we must have in this life.

And the good news is that God our treasure is found in the most ordinary things!

Many times he simply comes to us even without us looking for him while often would also appear if we truly seek him like in the two short parables we heard this Sunday.

Jesus said to his disciples: “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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

Matthew 13:44-46

Photo by author, San Juan, La Union, 25 July 2023.

Our gospel may be the shortest these past three Sundays but it challenges us to be wiser in making choices to acquire the only worthy treasure of all – God.

Both the farmer and the merchant exemplify to us this wisdom in letting go of their other possessions just to have the buried treasure and pearl they have found.

Note how the farmer merely chanced upon the treasure buried in a field not his, while the merchant finally found the fine pearl after years of searching all his life. Here we are reminded how God is not that difficult to find by those truly seeking him. The problem lies with us when we refuse to be the good soil so that the seeds sown in us may grow and bear fruit even amid the weeds! Many times, we have stopped having that sense of awe, of being surprised by God who is like a treasure buried in a field somewhere waiting to be found. Worst, a lot often we have simply given up searching for God as if it is impossible to find him like a fine pearl. God is with us in Jesus Christ, our Emmanuel.

This is the good news of our short parables today. Moreover, God even comes to ask us what we want in life like King Solomon in the first reading. Later in the gospel we find Jesus Christ also asking the blind Bartimaeus what does he want while passing by the city of Jericho. Notice how those healed by Jesus always had clear thoughts and focus, so wise in their choices of what they wanted in life like King Solomon. Can we be wise enough like Solomon in choosing well, in asking the right thing from God?

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” the Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request.

1 Kings 3:5-7, 9-10

Photo by author, San Juan, La Union, 25 July 2023.

What is so beautiful, even wonderful here is not just the nearness of God with us but his kindness in asking us what we want. Imagine God saying, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”

What shall we ask God if he were to come to us in a dream tonight like Solomon? Perhaps we would be at a loss! Remember, God is asking for just one thing we want. At least the genie usually gives three wishes, with only the third one as most crucial being the last for which we are told to always ask for three more wishes!

Here we find again Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why most useful because our whys give us the reason and meaning for whatever we wish to accomplish. Exactly what Solomon must have considered as he laid out to God his situation, his needs, most of all his weakness, “I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.” See why Solomon asked for that grace instead of wealth or fame or strong army?

It is that consciousness of being small and weak before God that pleases him most in granting our prayers. Earlier before this scene Jesus praised and thanked God in giving wisdom to the little ones who accepted him than the wise and the learned who rejected him (Mt.11:25). That is the attitude of being a “good soil” who allows the seed to penetrate and absorb us!

God was so pleased with Solomon because he knew so well his whys that to govern Israel so well amid his many weaknesses, he needed God more than ever. Unlike Adam and Eve who tried to usurp God in his power in knowing right from wrong, Solomon recognized it as divine prerogative we can only share with God. Actually, what he asked for was God himself who is the treasure hidden in the field and the fine pearl found by the merchant. Solomon did not want to be like God inasmuch as he never thought of being wealthy and powerful nor famous that are of no value at all compared to having wisdom, in having a discerning heart to know right from wrong.

Photo by author, shore of the Lake of Galilee in Capernaum, Israel, May 2017.

I have realized in my 25 years as a priest that what we treasure most are not the ones that give us pleasure but the ones who complete us. We ask and pray to God for something or someone not because of need but more of fulfillment found only in Jesus Christ who promised that whatever we ask from his Father would be granted to us in his name if it is for the mission he had entrusted to us. That is why in my prayers, I no longer ask God for anything except of being with him in eternity because I am so sure that whatever I need, he would give. Most of all, if I have God, then I am complete.

The parables of Jesus are inexhaustibly rich yet so accessible to everyone with open minds and open hearts to meet God in Christ through the simple realities of life. That is why St. Paul tells us in the second reading today that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Let us pray for more zeal and enthusiasm in being the good soil, in choosing wisely the only treasure worthy in this life who is Jesus Christ, our Emmanuel or God-is-with-us. Let us welcome him in the many parables of life we take for granted that are all part of God’s plan of salvation for us leading to glory that is our destiny. Amen. Today is Sunday, go to Mass and pray for those severely affected by super typhoon Egay especially our brothers and sisters in northern Luzon.

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