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Monday, July 31, 2017

Your King Is Coming!

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai, FMH
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30, 2017
St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese, Kenya

The theme of today’s readings (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52) is wisdom. 

This is not  worldly wisdom. It is something deeper and infinitely more precious. It means to be able to see life from God’s point of view. 

Christ said this wisdom is worth more than all our other possessions together. Solomon understood this, and when God gave him a choice, he chose wisdom. How much do we need this wisdom! Look at all the futile, purposeless, silly, and misguided things people do.

Once upon a time there was a farmer who owned a small farm of land. The land was stony but he worked hard, and for a while he was blessed with a certain happiness and contentment. But then he began to feel that there was something missing in his life, and he felt empty as a result. One evening a stranger passed that way and asked for a night’s lodgings. The farmer was only too glad of his company, for he was pining for excitement and distraction.

Around the fire that night the stranger began to talk about diamonds. He told the farmer that if he could find a diamond, even one no bigger than the nail of his little finger, he would never have to do another tap of work. The farmer was very impressed. He didn’t get a wink of sleep all the night thinking about diamonds.

Next day the stranger departed leaving the farmer more than a little unhappy. As the days went by he got more and more restless. He began to neglect his farm. Finally he sold it cheaply, and went off roaming the world in search of diamonds. He travelled far but found none. In the end, overcome by despair, he committed suicide. Meanwhile, the man who bought his farm was out ploughing. One day the plough turned up a stone which
shone in the sunlight. It turned out to be a very valuable diamond. When he went back to the spot he found lots more. It turned out to be one of the richest diamond mines ever found.

While we cannot help feeling sorry for the farmer, we have to say that he was a very foolish man. Had he persevered with what he had, he would undoubtedly have found the mine himself. Yet he is typical of a good many people. In many cases it’s not that people are afraid of hard work and sacrifice. It’s just that they lack wisdom. They don’t know what is important. They pursue the wrong goals. They look in the wrong places. They sell their birthright.

The lives of many today are purposeless and empty. Without the soap operas of television they wouldn’t know what to do with
themselves. They are no longer able to distinguish what is important in life, and have to content themselves with a diminished and distorted picture of the world, which results in suffering and impoverishment.

They return again and again to the same old wells of pleasure -- wells which never quench their thirst. They go to great trouble to possess satisfactions that don’t last an hour, and bring misery in their wake.

They pile up more and more goods when they already have more than enough to be happy. "Men," said the Little Prince, "rush about in express trains, but they do not know what
they are looking for. They raise five thousand roses in the same garden, and they still do not find what they are looking for. Yet what they want could be found in a single rose."

It takes us a long time to see what is clear. Instead of going for our goal, we fling ourselves on trifles.  Of what use is a full freezer, if one’s heart is empty?

We put making a living before living! Our chief task in life is to live well, not to be successful.

For a Christian, this means to put our hope in God and His Kingdom, and to live according to His will. 

What if we miss out on something? They are only trifles. What if we have to make sacrifices? Happiness, wisdom, and harmony are not to be found along smooth paths. The best things in life have to be earned. But beyond suffering lies the calm water that makes life meaningful and death easy.

May heaven help those people who have not found the "pearl of great price," and those people who don’t even know where to look for it. Christ offers us this pearl. It is the Kingdom of God. Only God can satisfy our hunger for happiness. Only God can make our lives meaningful and give us love.  If we lose God, we lose all. If we find God, we find all.

Wisdom is a gift of God. It means that we put our trust in His word rather than in  human experts. It gives us a vision of life
that is priceless. Wisdom -- God's view of things -- is the pearl of great price. 

Our tragedy is not that we cannot find the pearl offered to us in the Gospel, but that We are unwilling to pay the price. Christ’s two parables underline the fact that wisdom calls for our total response and full-hearted action. This reveals our fear and hesitancy, our half-hearted response.

The pearl comes to those who open their hands, letting go of all other things, and embrace it.

"Tell me what you are busy about and I will tell you what you are." (Goethe).

"A great way to find out what you want from life is to write your own epitaph." (Proverb)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

*Fr. Joe Mungai, FMH, is a Franciscan Missionary of Hope, a relatively new congregation started in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993. He was ordained June 7, 2014. 

July 18, 2017: Fr. Joe's vehicle in Africa is busted. If you would like to help him serve his African parishioners send your donation to Fr Francis Kamau, Pastor St Mary of the Pines Catholic Church, 1050 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop, Shreveport,Louisiana 71118. The check or Western Union Funds should be made out to Fr. Francis Kamau for the purpose of repairing Fr. Joe Mungai's car in Kenya. He will forward the money to Fr. Joe. God bless you. Editor

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