Homily for July 30

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for Homily
Tech problems - I hope to post the audio later today!

I think we’ve all had the experience
of having a chain of connected thoughts pass through our minds
a succession of 3 or 4 different thoughts occurring to us
in what seems to be just a matter of seconds.
I had just that kind of experience as I began to work on this homily.
I sat with the first verse of today’s first reading:
The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night and said,
 “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.  (I Kings 3:5)
And in about two seconds I had this train of thought:
- I should begin with this verse
- and ask the people how they might respond
if the Lord made the same offer to them
- and I should ask myself as well
- and if I ask myself how I’d respond
if the Lord offered me anything I wanted
I’d say “a condo on the Cape in Hyannis by the harbor.”

I got to the end of my thought train and was embarrassed.
Unlike Solomon who didn’t ask for anything for himself
but rather for an understanding heart
that he might better serve God’s people,
my mind went right to a condo on the Cape
and I’d be lying if I said my heart wasn’t following close behind.
I am particularly embarrassed because right there in the scripture,
in black and white, was the right answer to the question!
I had led myself to just the place I wanted to lead you:
to the point of taking an honest inventory
of our wants and our wishes, our dreams and our desires
to discover what it is we truly want out of life -
what we really, really want -
- and where God is in all that mix?

And that’s just what those three short parables in the gospel
are urging on us today.
One of those parables asks me
 “What’s that “fine pearl” you’re searching for?
What treasure are you seeking?
What do you really, really, want?
What’s the one thing you’d ask for if you knew that in asking for  it -
it would be yours?
And what will you, or what have you
been willing to sacrifice, to give up,
in order to have this one thing?”
And where is God, where has God been, in this search of yours?”

Another of those parables asks me,
 “Do you remember the great dream you had for your life
and the joy you found in having that dream?
Do you remember putting it on a shelf or burying it in a field
until you were ready for the dream to become reality?
Were you able to buy the field? to reach up to the shelf
to retrieve your dream and put it into into action?
Or did other realities hold you back, keep you from your dream?
And where was God in all of that? 
Where is God in your dreams that have come true?
Where is God in your hopes that were never realized?”

I know that stirring up all these memories
of unfulfilled hopes and dashed dreams
might have an unhappy impact on many of us.
Even the most faithful among us, the most successful,
those who worked the hardest at achieving life’s goals
have all known failure and disappointment and regret.

And it might be just at this point
that we need to remember the third parable:
that great haul of fish where the net cast into the sea
brings in a yield of good fish to keep
along with those not worth holding on to.

That’s part of this personal inventory we all need to take:
sorting through the catch of our lives
and seeing what’s good, what’s to be kept
and what needs to be thrown back into the sea.
As we sort through that catch we need to be looking for God,
remembering how he was always with us
whether we were faithful to him or not
and remembering that every true treasure,        
every good dream of ours - was and is a gift from God  -
whether we found it and kept it
or failed it and lost it.

Taking an inventory of our lives and our hearts
means reverencing what God has given us,
asking pardon for the ways we may have squandered his gifts
and finally, throwing back into the sea what brings us no peace
and only burdens us in carrying it.

Too often, much too often, we ruminate in regret
over what didn’t come to pass.
Where does God figure in our doing that?
The Lord doesn’t judge us by our successes and failures
in realizing our hopes and dreams.
He looks only to how we desired him to be part of them,
how we invited God into our deepest longings and hopes.
And while it may be too late for many of us
to go back and achieve what never came to pass,
it is never too late to invite the Lord to a deeper share in our lives,
our hearts, and in the hopes and dreams that still are ours.

Solomon knew that wealth and success were fleeting and self-serving
and so he asked simply for an understanding heart.
It’s never too late to learn from the wisdom of Solomon.

Truth be told:
I don’t ever expect to have a condo on the Cape, in Hyannis by the harbor.
But I hope I have the wisdom to dream and to hope
that for the rest of my life, and into eternity,
I will find my home, my abode, in the loving arms of God.
I hope, in the end, I find that’s what I really, really want.

The Lord invited Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted.
What do you and I want this morning?
What do you and I need this morning?
And how is God involved in the mix
of our wants and our wishes, our dreams and our desires?

Having been fed with the bread of God’s word in the scriptures,
we go to the Lord’s Table to share his supper,
the food of the altar - the Eucharist.
Here we receive the Body and Blood of Christ
who, on the Cross, asked nothing for himself
but gave over everything for us
that we might have life and have it to the full.

May Christ be who we need.
May Christ be what we want.
May Christ be our deepest desire.
May Christ be our fondest hope and our finest dream.


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