17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

          What are the things you consider priceless? Priceless in the sense that you are willing to give up everything –or “sell everything you have”– for those things. I think it will do us better answering this question, not by trying to give” the right or ideal answer”–or something that is ‘nice’ to hear and somehow expected of us –but by being totally honest with ourselves. I hope we can answer this important question based on reality –and not just on the ideal or “what we want it to be.” Mas madali kasing magbigay ng ‘tama’ kaysa ‘totoong’ sagot –sagot na batay sa totoong pinahahalagahan natin sa buhay.

          There are some things in life that are worth any price. How much would you take for your health, for your marriage, for your family, for your children, for your good mind? Many of us do not appreciate the really important things in life until we lose them. But there are some things that are priceless –though we may not realize their worth at the time.

          Today’s gospel reading challenges us to ask ourselves: “What are the things we consider as priceless?” Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of great joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Same as saying: “No matter how much you may own, no matter how much political power you may hold, no matter how glamorous and popular you may be, no matter how high on the IQ scale you may register, if you have missed out on the kingdom of heaven, you have missed out on the one thing in life whose value far exceeds all others.”

          Have we allowed ourselves to be so captivated by the kingdom of God? Are we so captivated so as to give up everything and make God’s kingdom the focus of our life? Not our personal ambitions, plans or projects. Are we so captivated so as to renounce the evil ways of selfishness and make God’s way of selflessness and self-giving our way? Denying ourselves and being other-oriented. Are we so captivated so as to leave all worldly attachments and make the kingdom values as the moving principle of our life? Be it our attachment to material wealth and possessions, to political power and influence, to social status and prestige, to public approval and admiration, and to other worldly things.

          Each of us should also ask this question: What is it in my life that I consider so valuable or so precious that I would be willing to reorient my life for it? Or to use the language of today’s gospel: What is it that that I consider so valuable that I will “sell all that I have” and “buy it” Is it what Jesus refers to in the gospel as buried treasure and pearl of great price?

          The Lord is telling us, in no uncertain terms, that the kingdom of God is more precious, more valuable than anything else. It is infinitely more precious than even the most expensive jewel. It is, in fact, priceless! It is worth selling all we have to obtain it. Nothing should ever displace the values of the kingdom from the number one place in our priorities. But the question is:  What are our real priorities?

          According to Nil Guillemette, one way to find out our real priorities is to ask: What am I thinking about most of the time? What really worries me and keeps me awake at night? This questioning might make us very uncomfortable. Guillemette says, “If I am always thinking of something, it is most likely that that something is my priority.” Perhaps, then, we must begin by an act of humble confession and admit that our priorities are not really those of Jesus –that our priorities are not really the things of the kingdom.

          One way to try and keep our priorities straight might be to remember that our earthly life is virtually a blink of an eye in comparison to the eternal life that has been promised to those who seek the kingdom of God –with all their heart, mind and soul. So, we must be ready to give up many valuable things –if these become incompatible with the following of Jesus. The kingdom of God must be our highest priority. It must be our ultimate good.

          Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, You remind us that God’s kingdom is more precious than anything else. Help us to be willing and ready to give up everything we have to secure that treasure and pearl we can find in You alone. Lord Jesus, may God’s kingdom be the captivating goal of our life, the driving force in all our efforts, and the reason for all our sacrifices. Amen.

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