Sunday Sermon for July 26, 2020, the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

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

In the first reading God offers Solomon an opportunity to ask for anything.  Before saying anything else, it might be good for each of us to ask ourselves how we would respond to the Lord if He offered us the chance to request anything in the world.  As the Lord points out, Solomon could have asked for a long life, riches, or the life of his enemies.  Instead, Solomon asked for wisdom, for an understanding heart to serve well as King of Israel.

Most of us are not called to be kings and queens in the worldly sense (although we share in the Kingship of Jesus), so we may not require wisdom for the purpose of ruling over a people.  However, all of us need to pray for wisdom.  There are two reasons for this.  First, Jesus is the Wisdom of God, so we want to be united with our Lord.  Secondly, St. Paul tells us in the second reading that all things work together for good for those who love God.

Many things in our lives might not make any sense to us at the time they happen.  Wisdom will give us insight to recognize what God is doing.  It may be that He is purifying us of some area of sin or vice, helping us to grow in virtue, revealing an area of woundedness that needs to be healed, helping us to recognize something we have not yet forgiven, etc.  Our natural reaction may be one of confusion, anger, or not even thinking about what God may be trying to accomplish in our life.  Wisdom helps us to focus on God and gives us understanding into the spiritual aspect God is bringing to light through these events.

Notice, in the second reading, that St. Paul tells us everything works for good for those who love God.  He does not say “some things,” or “most things,” but “everything.”  We need wisdom to see things in a spiritual or even a divine perspective.  This will help us not only to cooperate more with the Lord, but to rejoice in what He is doing because we can see the good that can come as a result.  I should also add that since St. Paul speaks of everything working for good, this includes our sins. 

Obviously, God does not want us to sin, but He will use our sins to bring about good in our lives.  This may come in the form of a greater compassion for those who are weak and broken; it may be making us realize our own weakness and, thereby, become more dependent on God’s strength; it could even be that God will use our sinfulness to teach others so they do not fall into the same problems we have.  We do not know how God will use things, but if we trust Him, He will bring good out of everything.

When St. Paul says that this good comes for those who love God, we need to then ask if we are loving Him as we ought.  In the Gospel Jesus speaks of the buried treasure and the pearl of great price.  When a person finds these, he is willing to sell everything he has to buy the field or the pearl.  When God looks at you, He sees the pearl of great price.  God loves you so much that He was willing to give everything to ransom your soul from the grip of the devil.  He humbled Himself to become one of us and then died so we could be redeemed.

This is the most wonderful thing in the universe, but there is only one catch: love is a two way street.  God loves you so much that He is willing to give everything for you.  Now each of us needs to ask: “How much do I love God?”  Is God the pearl of great price in my life?  Is God, Who dwells in the depths of my soul, the hidden treasure I have uncovered?  Is He so valuable to me that I am willing to give everything to have Him?  God made His choice; now we must make ours.

This is the fruit of wisdom: to have understanding about what is truly most important.  Our society says the self is most important.  God tells us love is most important, love of God first, then love of neighbor.  Love is focused on the other, not on the self, so this is the opposite of what the world presents.  So, pray for wisdom, not only so we can have insight into how God is trying to help us to love more perfectly, but most importantly, to get our priorities right and to love our Lord, the true Pearl of great price, with our whole heart and soul and strength.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit