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That the Mass is the central feature of the Catholic religion hardly needs to be said. During the Reformation (and always) the Mass has been the test. The word of the Reformers—“It is the Mass that matters”—was true. The long persecution of Catholics in England took the practical form of laws chiefly against saying Mass; for centuries the occupant of the English throne was obliged to manifest his Protestantism, not by a general denial of the whole system of Catholic dogma, but by a formal repudiation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation and of the Mass.
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

Homily: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
published 27 July 2014 by Guest Author

0319_17_OT_A-MED T COULD BE INTERESTING if we asked people their opinion as to what Jesus meant when he said the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure buried in a field that someone finds. He first hides the treasure so that no one else will find it, and then sells all he has to be able to buy the field and then buys it. Certainly this man was determined to get that field. And the same idea is there in regard to the pearl of great price. Now I have always just taken for granted that Jesus was trying to impress on us the importance of acquiring the kingdom of heaven or simply going to heaven after I die. But the thought struck me maybe this idea not necessarily so clear to everyone who hears or reads this parable. I guess the only or more likely way that I would ever find out would be if I were conducting some kind of a bible class and we were discussing this part of the bible. However, I do think that applying this idea to our working for heaven and the importance we should give to it, certainly fits in with the idea.

THE THIRD PARABLE of the catch of fish is perhaps a little different. Here Jesus brings up an idea that maybe is not too popular even in some of our Catholic Churches nowadays. If I were to ask the question, whom do those fish that are discarded or thrown away represent; many would not like to hear the answer. Nowadays we don’t like to think of anyone going anywhere but to heaven. And of course that is very nice, but I’m not so sure that it is realistic. Not too long ago I was talking with a priest who said that he did not believe that there was anyone in hell. I told him that was a very nice thought, and I too would love to believe it, but I don’t think we can count on it. After all why did Jesus tell a parable like He did in today’s third little story? Just because we don’t think anyone might go to hell or don’t believe anyone would go to hell, or don’t believe that there is a hell, doesn’t take away the reality of hell or the possibility that we can go there if we don’t live the right kind of lives. Wishing it will not make it go away.

I think it is quite a disservice to the people if a priest never says anything about the existence of hell or punishment for sin. I’m not saying that these should be his only topics. Just as in a family the parents should not always being laying down rules and punishments for disobeying the rules. But that doesn’t mean there should not be rules or consequences for the non-observance of them. It is a real disservice to the children if there is no discipline in the home. It certainly is a poor preparation for the children in later life. Unfortunately many of the ills in present day society can probably be traced back to the lack of discipline and/or proper training in the home. In my instructions to couples wanting to get married I point out to them that one of our greatest blessings is to have come from a good family, to have had good parents. I encouraged the soon to be wed couple to try to provide for themselves and their children the best family life that they possibly can. That is one of the greatest things that any parent can provide for their children. Incidentally it doesn’t depend upon the amount of wealth that one might have.

IN THE FIRST READING we see that God was very pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom instead of riches or a long life, or victory in battle. The Wisdom of Solomon has become proverbial. Wisdom is something higher than just knowledge. Wisdom implies knowing how to use one’s knowledge in the right way. Wisdom knows how to use one’s time and wealth and efforts for the things that really matter, for the things that will last forever. That is why the question: “How will this affect my eternal salvation” is such an important question and should be reflected upon and asked frequently.

In some respects I think one of the most important and practical things that St. Paul ever wrote is the first line from today’s selection of his letter to the Romans: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God. I have seen that happen so often in my life and I feel confident the same is true for you. Just reflect back on some of the difficult situations that you’ve had to face. You didn’t know how they were going to work out, but somehow, some way, they did. You’re still here; I’m still here. God has taken care of us up to this point. Is there any reason to doubt that He will not continue to do so? No. None at all.

We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.