Graphic by David Chen

Faith: Training for kingdom of God

By 
  • July 19, 2017

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30 (Year A) 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

Imagine a supernatural being offering to grant us whatever we ask. This has been a recurrent theme in legends and mythology.

Solomon was asked by God to name what he wanted and it would be his. The possibilities were so enormous and endless that most people would have been paralyzed, unable to think of just one thing. For Solomon, the answer was easy. He asked for one thing: wisdom.

He was not asking for a super-high IQ, for wisdom has little to do with intelligence. He wanted to be a true leader and king, rather than a king whose authority was based on power and the threat of violence. He aspired to be a king who was compassionate, just and able to discern right from wrong.

A wise person is one who is adept at the art of living in harmony with God’s principles and the well-being and dignity of others. It is sadly lacking in much of our political economic, social and even religious activity today. The first step to acquiring wisdom is to acknowledge our limitations, that we don’t have all the answers and we are not always right.

Solomon was humble enough to recognize his lack and already wise enough to ask for the greatest and most important gift possible. God was pleased and granted his request. If only we could trade our obsession with ideology and being right for a desire for true wisdom! We would be a lot happier and the world would be a far better place.

What is justification? How do we explain predestination and what does it mean to be glorified? These questions from the passage in Romans have occupied theologians for centuries. For a reader not steeped in theology (and Paul’s audience was not) the verses are a note of simple reassurance and explanation. God has had us in His sights long before we drew our first breath. Our journey through life has not been all our own doing — God has provided the experiences we have needed.

We think we call the shots, but our life can only be seen in the context of God’s grand plan. When we respond to God’s call, it is God who prepares us to be in His presence, not us. Everything that we have experienced has the capacity to bring us home to the glory of God. There is no need to complicate things with theological jargon or learned tomes.

Books have been written attempting to explain and describe the kingdom of God. Jesus was content to use metaphors and similes, which is far more effective in explaining something beyond normal human experience. Although these examples still leave us with many questions, they give us valuable clues and guidance.

The kingdom’s value is so great that everything else we esteem pales in insignificance. It is worth sacrificing everything to obtain. Other parts of the Gospel give us further hints: the kingdom of God is within us, one with deep understanding of spiritual principles is close to it.

We might deduce that it describes an interior encounter with the God who dwells within us and an acceptance of the divine presence into our hearts and minds. To experience this interior kingdom requires a stripping away of falsity — human attitudes and perceptions, and materialist ways.

A well-lived life is one spent in training for the kingdom of God. It is indeed an inestimable treasure and worth all the effort involved. 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30 (Year A) 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

Imagine a supernatural being offering to grant us whatever we ask. This has been a recurrent theme in legends and mythology.

Solomon was asked by God to name what he wanted and it would be his. The possibilities were so enormous and endless that most people would have been paralyzed, unable to think of just one thing. For Solomon, the answer was easy. He asked for one thing: wisdom.

He was not asking for a super-high IQ, for wisdom has little to do with intelligence. He wanted to be a true leader and king, rather than a king whose authority was based on power and the threat of violence. He aspired to be a king who was compassionate, just and able to discern right from wrong.

A wise person is one who is adept at the art of living in harmony with God’s principles and the well-being and dignity of others. It is sadly lacking in much of our political economic, social and even religious activity today. The first step to acquiring wisdom is to acknowledge our limitations, that we don’t have all the answers and we are not always right.

Solomon was humble enough to recognize his lack and already wise enough to ask for the greatest and most important gift possible. God was pleased and granted his request. If only we could trade our obsession with ideology and being right for a desire for true wisdom! We would be a lot happier and the world would be a far better place.

What is justification? How do we explain predestination and what does it mean to be glorified? These questions from the passage in Romans have occupied theologians for centuries. For a reader not steeped in theology (and Paul’s audience was not) the verses are a note of simple reassurance and explanation. God has had us in His sights long before we drew our first breath. Our journey through life has not been all our own doing — God has provided the experiences we have needed.

We think we call the shots, but our life can only be seen in the context of God’s grand plan. When we respond to God’s call, it is God who prepares us to be in His presence, not us. Everything that we have experienced has the capacity to bring us home to the glory of God. There is no need to complicate things with theological jargon or learned tomes.

Books have been written attempting to explain and describe the kingdom of God. Jesus was content to use metaphors and similes, which is far more effective in explaining something beyond normal human experience. Although these examples still leave us with many questions, they give us valuable clues and guidance.

The kingdom’s value is so great that everything else we esteem pales in insignificance. It is worth sacrificing everything to obtain. Other parts of the Gospel give us further hints: the kingdom of God is within us, one with deep understanding of spiritual principles is close to it.

We might deduce that it describes an interior encounter with the God who dwells within us and an acceptance of the divine presence into our hearts and minds. To experience this interior kingdom requires a stripping away of falsity — human attitudes and perceptions, and materialist ways.

A well-lived life is one spent in training for the kingdom of God. It is indeed an inestimable treasure and worth all the effort involved.

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