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View the Webcast to listen to the most recent homily.
July 30, 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


In the past week the news has centered on the tensions between the Israelites and the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The increasing tensions between north Korea, China, and the United States. The constant bickering in Washington about the Health Care Bill.


Had Jesus lived today rather than 2,000 years ago, today's Gospel might have been very different. Rather than talking about a pearl merchant who sacrificed everything he has to buy a dream pearl, or a farmer who sold all that he had to buy a field with a treasure buried in it, Jesus might have talked about the government leaders a greeting on peace terms between Israelis and Palestinians the danger of living in a world saturated with terrorists and nuclear technology, the ending of the constant bickering and  name calling by our government leaders in Washington.


What is the connection between a pearl merchant, a treasure seeker, fighting in Jerusalem and in the Gaza strip, and living in our world of terrorism and nuclear threats? What do these people all have in common? I believe that the common thread binding them together, is their total commitment to a dream – the dream of the discovery of a beautiful pearl; the wonder of discovering a great lost fortune; the desire for a world where nations settle disputes at a table instead of a battle field; or the hope of living in a world free from nuclear weapons and terrorist attacks; all are willing to sacrifice for the goal they have set for themselves.


In the case of the pearl merchant, it’s to own the perfect pearl. In the case of the treasure-seeker, it’s to obtain the priceless treasure. In the case of the warring nations, it’s to obtain the elimination of tensions and the absence of war. In the case of the danger of terrorist attacks it’s to be free from the attacks.


This leads us to the point of today's Gospel. What pearl are we seeking? What treasure are we willing to sacrifice everything for? What are our dreams and goals for life here on earth and what is even more important? What are our hopes and dreams for in life on the other side of the grave?


The message presented by our culture is that there are no permanent values – spiritual life is not worth seeking. Only what can make us happy now is truly worth seeking. No spiritual pearls; no spiritual treasure; no eternal life - nothing worth dreaming about or striving for.


Since the end of the second World War II, the values in our American culture have increasingly differed from our Catholic values. So we are confronted by these two differing value systems every moment of every day. There are plenty of politicians, television conmen and electronic preachers trying to sell us pearls. But the pearls they offer are like paste – not the real thing.


The pearl we must seek, the treasure we must long for is not something we can put on our finger – it is seeking the kingdom of heaven – now! It is responding to the invitation of Jesus Christ to follow him now! To possess the treasure means that we must actively pursue it - not sit around waiting for it to happen. The kingdom of God is the ultimate discovery of our lives. The kingdom of God is the pearl of great price – the treasure we keep looking for.


As we continue on our journey to the house of our father, the Sacred Scripture today invites us to ask ourselves what we are seeking in life - what is our pearl - what is the treasure are we looking for?


The same Holy Spirit of wisdom who guided King Solomon in the first reading confronts us and asks us what we truly seek and value. Jesus makes it clear today that the greatest treasure of all is the inward journey to discover God – to be with God; to position ourselves under the rule of God.


Seeking God's kingdom involves total commitment on our part. We cannot pursue it as we would a part time job. We cannot work at it as we do a hobby. We must give it our all! We must make it the top priority of our lives. Being faithful to Christ is like discovering the real pearl or finding the lasting treasure. Being faithful to Christ is living in this world with our eyes focused on the next world. The pearl merchant's prize, the farmer's treasure, the world without conflict and terrorism are all perishable and ultimately meaningless.


When it’s all said and done, there’s only one thing that counts: it is not whether, in life, we acquired a prize pearl, a rare treasure, a world without terrorism, the only thing that will matter is what we have done to obtain and live out the Kingdom of God.


May we seek with Solomon “a heart so wise and understanding that we can distinguish what is right” and thus be led by the Holy Spirit to the House of our Father.




St. Mary of the Assumption Basilica
Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption
A Parish Family for the Mid-Ohio Valley since 1838.
506 Fourth Street, Marietta, Ohio 45750-1901
(740) 373-3643    Email: