Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Most of the time the Lord spoke to the Jewish people, well versed in Hebrew scripture. The Gospel of Matthew was pointed towards Jewish Christians. Jesus is not replacing what we call the Old Testament with the New Testament.  He is combining the best of the Hebrew Scriptures with the New Way, the Kingdom of God. The wise one, the scribe of the Kingdom, therefore, knows how to use what is old and what is new[1].

            It takes wisdom to understand how to deal with the past and the present.  There are many people who idealize the past and want to return to life as it was, for example, in the fifties. There are many others who want to reject the past and concentrate only on the advancements of modern life. So, in the area of family life, the first group wants to re-create the Cleaver Family, and the second group sees a value in the Modern Family. In the area of faith, the first group wants to return to the pre-Vatican Church and the second group wants a Church without a visible structure.

            How do we best deal with the past and the present?  Well, I believe that it was the   Russian poet/philosopher, Yevtushenko, who had this insight. He said that the trick to handling the past is to know what should be brought with us and what should be left behind[2].  That is wisdom.  For example, within the Church, we should bring with us from the past devotion to the sacraments, to the Mother of God, the importance of the Catholic Family, firm standards of morality, a determination to practice the faith. What should be left behind would include the subordination of the laity, the repression of the roles of women in the faith, the glorification of the clergy, and the diminishing of the study of Sacred Scripture.

            We should also apply this to our lives.  All of us can look back on our lives and note numerous positive and multiple negative aspects of our lives.  We have got to stop persecuting ourselves by dwelling on the negatives of our past. When we do this, we are bringing the past into the present. Leave it in the e past. At the same time, it is not pride to recognize the gifts we have shown and to be sure that we utilize our potential, or make our talents real in the present.

            So, for example, a person went through a period of life when he or she behaved immorally. Then, perhaps due to a religious experience most likely occasioned by love, that person changed his or her lifestyle and became the person he or she is now. He or she said, “I am getting married now.  I am having a child now.  I need to be a person of integrity.” And that person grew up spiritually determined to live a new, dedicated Christian lifestyle.

            It would be so wrong for that person or any of us to dwell on the mistakes of the past. If sin was involved, well, remember the sacrament of reconciliation is given to us to leave the past in the past and to concentrate on the present. On the positive side, a person can look at his or her past and remember how volunteer work for the poor or sick was so important during high school or college.  Perhaps, he or she might remember how others could not deal with a dying person, but how he or she was able to sit down and chat with the sick person and see that person, not the person’s sickness.  Reflecting on this, the person says, “Hey, I can do this.  And it is important for me to use this gift God gave me.  I’m going to volunteer as an AIDS buddy or as a hospice companion.”  This is looking at the past and bringing the best with us to the present.

            Solomon prayed for wisdom. Not a bad idea. It takes wisdom to combat the challenges of life. It takes wisdom to be a good parent, a good husband, a good wife, a good priest, a good person.  It takes wisdom to discern what needs to be brought into the present and what needs to be left in the past.  Where do we get this wisdom?  The same place that Solomon received his ■



[1] 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time A, July 27, 2014. Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Responsorial Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
[2] Soviet and Russian poet. He is also a novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor, and editor, and a director of several films.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris