This homily is not based exclusively on today’s scripture readings but draws from the readings of the last two Sundays as well. There is a unity in these readings that made me look at them all together. For example, the gospel readings of all three of these Sundays have been from Matthew 13, and eight parables of Jesus provide the unity in this chapter. Similarly, the first reading last Sunday and today are from the book of Wisdom and provide some common themes for reflection.

I have chosen to draw themes from today’s readings and those of the the two previous Sundays to prepare this reflection. I would like to make three points. These points are not necessarily connected but, rather, offer three themes for us to consider.

God is a Giver

In today’s first reading, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and gave him the opportunity to ask for “something” (1 Kgs 3:5). Solomon sought an “understanding heart” (1 Kgs 3:9). Solomon got what he asked for and much more. Whereas the focus generally is on Solomon’s good nature, today, I want to focus on God’s nature. This story tells me something important about God. It tells me that God is a giver. God is not a taker. God is a giver. Throughout salvation history, God is a giver. Creation and everything in it, human life and everything that comes with it, are all given to us by God.

God is not only a giver, but God is a generous giver. God gave Solomon much more that he asked for. A couple of weeks back, I reflected on the parable of the sower and the seeds as a parable of God’s generosity. I interpreted the seeds falling on different kinds of soil as a sign of God’s generosity. A Palestinian farmer, because he was poor would only let the seeds fall on fertile soil which would yield optimal fruit. But God, who lets the rain fall on the good and the bad and lets the sun shine on the just and the unjust, lets the seeds generously fall on different kinds of soil. Even last week, we heard of how God allows the weeds to grow alongside the wheat. It is sign of God’s patience and God’s capacity for tolerance. I remember saying that God is God of second, third, and limitless chances. Yes, God is a generous giver.

God gave wisdom to Solomon but to us God has given the greatest gift of all – Jesus. Today’s second reading says, “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30). In other words, heaven itself has been given to us. God constantly gives and gives generously.

Often in life, we lose perspective of God’s gifts to us. We might instead focus things we do not yet possess. That would be unwise. I propose that this week that we pray and focus on God the giver. May wisdom lead us there.

Judgement is God’s

Over the last two weekends and this weekend, we have heard six parables. Two of them particularly caught my attention: the parable of the wheat and the weeds and the parable of the fishes in the net. In the first parable, weeds grew in the field where the farm-owner only sowed wheat. The workers in the field wanted to weed out the field. However, the owner warned them to wait until harvest to separate the weeds and the wheat. In today’s parable of the various kinds of fish in the net, Jesus compared the separation of the good and bad fish to the end times when the righteous will be separated from the wicked.

This teaches a very important lesson. Final Judgement belongs to God. God is one who will separate the wicked from the righteous. Like the workers in the field, I am often tempted to judge people, separate the good from the bad without knowing them or the reality of their lives, and condemn them. I too am inclined to separate the righteous from the wicked and burn those that I consider evil.

The parables tell me that final judgement is not mine to make. Final judgement is God’s prerogative. My work is to toil hard in God’s field and leave the final judgement to God.

God’s Gifts Can Be Lost

Solomon was only the third king of Israel. Despite the wisdom given to him, Solomon acted foolishly and became unfaithful to God. He acted foolishly in two ways. First, he employed the Canaanites as forced laborers, and in this way did what the Egyptians had done to the Israelites. Second, he took about 700 wives and 300 concubines. Many of them were from the neighboring cultures. To please them, he erected altars to alien gods in violation of the first commandment. He was personally involved in the construction of some of these shrines.

Solomon’s actions finally led to the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah. How could Solomon be so foolish? What happened to the wisdom God gave him? What happened to his “understanding heart?”

There is a lesson for us in this tragic story. God is a giver. However, we can lose it all because of our own foolishness. For example, our foolishness is destroying God’s gift of creation. Or we who receive God’s generous forgiveness can then begin to play God and judge and condemn people. Or unlike the merchant who traded his fine pearls for the pearl of great price, we can lose focus on God’s kingdom and put all our time and energy into worldliness. Or having received God’s gifts, we can refuse to live generously ourselves. Or, like Solomon, we too can be foolish enough not to be guided by the wisdom that comes from the word of God.

The Eucharist we celebrate is a gift. Through the Eucharist we receive the greatest gift God has given us: Jesus. May we live wisely. Amen.

Image: King Solomon – This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the National Gallery of Art. Please see the Gallery’s Open Access Policy, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81489646

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Fr. Satish Joseph was ordained in India in 1994 and incardinated into the archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2008. He has a Masters in Communication and Doctorate in Theology from the University of Dayton. He is presently Pastor at Immaculate Conception and St. Helen parishes in Dayton, OH. He is also the founder Ite Missa Est ministries (www.itemissaest.org) and uses social media extensively for evangelization. He is also the founder of MercyPets (www.mercypets.org) — a charitable fund that invites pet-owners to donate a percent of their pet expenses to alleviate child hunger. MercyPets is active in four countries since its founding in December 2017. Apart from serving at the two parishes, he facilitates retreats, seminars and parish missions.

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