One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the Mass Readings personally and to meditate on a Gospel reflection.

A great way of doing this is using the technique of Lectio Divina, a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday Gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.

This week, Fr. Piccolo reflects on Matthew 13:44-52, the Gospel reading for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.

Gospel of the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Mt. 13:44-52)

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.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Gospel Reflection

Maybe it’s the heat, but every once in a while I ask myself if it’s really worth it…

Is it really worth it when there are no tears or prayers left to cry out for justice? Is it really worth it when you don’t feel heard by the Church or by God? Is it really worth it when the violent, the perverse, and the liars always seem to win?

I don’t know if the community Matthew is speaking to suffered from the heat in the same way but it certainly lived through the same dynamics.

There is a net that gathers in every type of fish. You and I find ourselves in the same net, in the same Church, in the same community. And it’s inevitable that I ask myself how it’s possible that you and I ended up here together. This net – which is the Kingdom of God – might seem to me more like a prison that I can’t get out of.

We are wheat and we are weeds, we are good fish and fish that stink, but we are condemned to be all together, inspired by the same hope: that soon the master of the fields will put the harvest in order and that the fisherman will open his net and begin the final sorting.

The yeast requires time to make the dough rise and the little mustard seed needs years to become like a tree. And we don’t always have the strength to wait.

[pullquote align=”right”]It’s easy to make the outer man a monk; it’s enough to want it. But making the inner man a monk requires an arduous struggle.” – Hesychius of Sinai[/pullquote]

This is the community Matthew is speaking to in his Gospel: the community that asks if it’s really worth it to sell everything, to commit oneself fully without seeing any fruits for their trouble.

Perhaps Matthew looked around him and saw laziness and distrust: the first Christians had met Christ, had found the treasure and the pearl, but ask themselves if, in the end, it will really be worth it to die for him. Some met Christ by accident as they tiredly carried out their daily work and as they tilled the field of their lives, like every other day. Other found him because they were seeking something that would be worth living for. These were the seekers of precious pearls.

God allows himself to be found, of course, but then he asks us to commit. Love changes us, it takes over, it is never indifferent. But not everyone is willing to lose anything for love. They’d rather go back to tilling that very same field, letting this new love whither and die. These are the people that have decided that its not worth the trouble.

In the same way there are those who, always hoping to find a more valuable pearl, throw back the one they have.

This Gospel passage uses the language of economics, the metaphor of business. You must sell to be able to buy. Rather, you must sell everything you have: everything, without holding back anything for yourself. Love can never be incomplete; you will never find a discount. No sale will ever come when you’re looking for love. You must commit yourself completely. You can’t think of protecting yourself if you want to be a part of love. You must risk everything! And it’s inevitable that after you’ve paid, you feel the temptation to ask yourself: will it be worth it?

Yes, you must pay for love. And whoever has experienced love knows what this means.

If we are unable to sell it all for love it only means that we are still like the scribes, unable to become disciples. The scribe is the expert in the law, the judge and the theologian, the one who only knows how to speak about a love of documents, books or the catechism. He is the one that knows how he is supposed to love, but has never really tried to.

The scribe becomes a disciple only when he knows how to use what he has learned to choose love at every moment of every day. He knows how to draw from his treasure, not only what tradition has taught him, but he knows how to use that ancient tradition to make difficult decisions when unpredictable and unexpected situations appear.

Do not be a believer that is merely a scribe, one that knows everything about letters but nothing about making decisions with love in real life situations.

I hope that we can all say together: it was worth the trouble!

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Is living the Gospel worth it to you?
  • Are you wait for love to go on sale before you think of buying?