Sunday Homily, July 30, 2023
Texts: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Matt 13:44-52
THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS, WISDOM, AND GOD’S PURPOSE
The past two Sundays have presented us with the parables of the Lord. These parables reference God’s kingdom or the kingdom of the heavens. In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ tells the parables in order to expose and teach lessons about the kingdom of God.
On this Sunday also, we have another cluster of three parables about the kingdom of the heavens: the parable of the treasure hidden in the field, the parable of the precious pearls, and the parable of the dragnet. These parables do not only describe the nature of the kingdom of the heavens, but they also establish that the kingdom allows itself to be discovered. It can be found accidently or by those who search for it. And finally, the kingdom of the heavens is inclusive in gathering and sorting. No one or nothing can be excluded from God’s kingdom except rotten things and evil minded persons.
But then, what is this kingdom? Where can it be found? In which field of the world can it be discovered hidden? In which market can one find this valuable pearl to purchase? In the first reading, we hear about God’s interaction with king Solomon. The youthful Solomon has just been made the king of Israel. He succeeds his father, David, on the throne. How does he handle the challenges of taking over the Davidic throne? The text does not say that Solomon seeks God’s counsel as he ascends the throne. But rather, it is God who invites Solomon to make a request of him at the beginning of his kinship. From the request of the young Solomon, it is obvious that this young man understands the enormity of the task before him. Thus, he pleads for wisdom. According to the Lord’s response, Solomon’s request is ingenious. There is nothing to compare with wisdom and uprightness in leadership. Solomon is to rule over the political, social, and even religious kingdom of Israel. Therefore, it is important that wisdom should be the foundation and source of governing the kingdom of Israel. In other words, once the internal structure of wisdom, which gives the sense of justice, uprightness, peace, and harmony has been established, all other things will fall in line for the smooth running of the kingdom. And so, the kingdom of the heavens dwells both internally, in Solomon, and externally, in the land of Israel as Solomon rules.
What is the relationship between the kingdom of the heavens and wisdom? Wisdom is the attendant at God’s throne (see Wis. 9:4-18). Thus, to talk about God’s kingdom is to reflect on wisdom, which cares for the order, harmony, and the smooth running of the kingdom affairs. According to Prov. 3:19a wisdom was there at creation. And in Prov. 3:13-18, we see the praise of wisdom and the glory of the person who possesses her. And so, the hidden treasure, the precious pearl, and the dragnet of the kingdom of the heavens can all be associated with wisdom. They can be described as expressions of the wisdom, which rules in God’s kingdom. The kingdom of the heavens is the kingdom of wisdom. The people and the land constitute the field in which the treasure of wisdom has been hidden. Solomon is able to discover this wisdom and employs her for the governance of his kingdom.
In the 2nd reading, from Rom 8:28-30, St. Paul makes a wonderful affirmation and exposes what God has done in order to ensure that all things work together for the good of those who love him. The Lord foreknew his children. This can be seen as a description of God’s relationship with his people. To know is to be in relationship with, to share, and to enjoy communion with the object of knowledge. God’s foreknowledge of his people makes him available to them. Consequently, he predestined them to conform to his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the cure and remedy for the corruption or even the outright loss of God’s image in which human beings were made. Thus, God’s predestination effects the transformation of God’s children into the image of Christ. Subsequently, God calls his children to the new life in Christ. As many as they are who respond to God’s call by faith, he justified, i.e., he acquits and makes them righteous. Finally, he makes them share in his eternal glory, thus he glorifies them. Therefore, St. Paul can confidently declare that all things work together for good for those who love God. This text can be observed as rooted in faith, love, and the eschatological hope of the eternal life.
Consequently, we can conclude that the kingdom of the heavens is the kingdom of faith, freedom, friendship, gratitude, and love. And this kingdom dwells in human beings. It moves and enlightens them on the path of life.
May the Good Lord bless his Word in our hearts, amen!