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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR JULY 30 | Make the treasure we seek benefit more than just ourselves

Like King Solomon, we should ask God for the gifts to spread the Gospel and build the kingdom

Imagine yourself in the place of King Solomon, where God will grant you whatever gift you wish. Because Solomon had such great faith and dedication to God, he fully believed that his request would be granted. Solomon’s wisdom led him to ask for an understanding heart so he could judge people rightly and to know the difference between right and wrong. That sounds like a great virtue to have as a leader. Each of us, as children of God, are given the same opportunity to ask for the gifts that we need to accomplish the work God has placed before us. But first, we need to fully understand the task God has given us and ask for the gifts to accomplish it.

Our mission is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and establish the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. With His assistance, we are promised that this is exactly what will happen and we are invited to participate in that great transformation of the world. But when we are asked to petition God for gifts, talents and virtues to be able to live in a fruitful and meaningful way, many of us become sidetracked with asking for things that don’t last. Bodily health, financial security, prestige, influence, success and even high intelligence are all great gifts to have, but they have no lasting value beyond this world. The only gift that is lasting through eternity is the gift of love.

The Gospel for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time reminds us through the parables that we discover treasures throughout our lives. Like the parable says, we do all that we can to procure those treasures. Many of us have put a lot of effort and resources behind treasures that have no lasting value. So I raise the questions: What is the treasure that your heart seeks? What are you willing to do to acquire that treasure? What criteria do you use to determine the greatest treasure that you could seek and acquire?

As we anticipate with joy the treasure that we are about to acquire, there are helpful and unhelpful steps to take. For instance, deciding what we want and what makes our life comfortable and convenient is probably not the best way to determine a true treasure. To think only of ourselves or our families and to keep others from the fulfillment of that treasure would also not be a helpful place to start. It might be helpful to start with the common good in mind. If I acquire this treasure, how will it affect not just myself and my family but also my community and even the world? Is the treasure that I am trying to acquire a treasure with lasting value and eternal qualities? Have I had a treasure like this before and it ended up being shallow and empty?

If you tend to be cynical or negative, it might be difficult for you to believe that God would want to gift you with a treasure. Can you take a step of faith and act as if God is faithful to you? Can you allow yourself to trust this one more time in the possibility that God’s Word is fruitful and fertile? If you find your life to be very comfortable and convenient, do you have the courage to ask for a treasure that might make your individual life less convenient, but make the lives of many others more beautiful?

Solomon could’ve asked for many other kinds of gifts, but instead, he chose to ask for an understanding heart. Imagine how our world, our families and our neighborhoods would be different if each of us possessed a more understanding heart.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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