Joy of the Gospel

Jesus is the true treasure of our lives

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Fr. Joseph Mgcini Moyo
On a daily basis and at every moment we are confronted with an opportunity to choose. The choices we make have a bearing on our lives. God has given every human being freedom of choice. In the face of complex moral challenges of our time, it is not easy to discern and choose between good and evil. In the first reading, Solomon is granted an opportunity to make a choice. You would think that being a young man who just ascended the throne, he would naturally be inclined to choose power or wealth. He however makes an astonishing and noble choice. In his words to God in the First Reading of today (I Kgs 3:5, 712), he prayed “give Your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil.” In the Bible the “heart” is not just a part of the body. It also indicates the centre of the person, his or her conscience. An “understanding heart” is therefore a conscience is attentive to the truth which emanates from the voice of God, a conscience that is able to discern right from wrong. As the King of Israel, Solomon had to listen to the voice of God and discern between good and evil in order to guide his people on the path of justice and of peace.
The story of Solomon remains enlightening to all men and women of every generation. We all have a conscience which we have to form well so as to be able to do what is right and avoid wrong. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of wisdom and understanding to help us make the right choices in life in relationship to God and others. People who have the important task of government have an extra responsibility and need the help of God in their office. What can we say of our political leaders? Are they men and women with upright consciences? Do they possess the capacity to recognize right and distinguish it from wrong? Do they seek to patiently do good, thereby contributing to justice and peace?
The gospel also presents us with two bold choice makers, the farmer and the merchant. The two are faced with the unexpected discovery at which they realize the unique opportunity not to miss. After making an assessment, they realize the inestimable value of the treasure. This leads them to the decision to sell all that they own. This is how those who find the Kingdom of God and encounter Jesus react. Jesus attracts and captivates. He is the true treasure of our lives. When we discover this treasure and the pearl, our lives change and we are able to sacrifice things with lesser value with joy. Indeed, the joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the entire life of those who encounter Jesus. Those who allow themselves to be saved by him are freed from sin, sadness, inner emptiness and isolation. With Jesus Christ, joy is always born and reborn (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 1).
The joy of the farmer and the merchant is the joy of every one who encounters Jesus. Let us invoke Mary, the seat of wisdom to help us in our discernment and choices. Let us ask her, our cause of our joy to lead us to encounter her Son, Jesus our joy.