The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2020
“We Proclaim His Image!”
1 Kings 3: 5-12
Psalm 119: 123-135
Romans 8: 26-30
Matthew 13: 44-52
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
Today is the celebration of the 26th anniversary of our Church being received into the Charismatic Episcopal Church. Since then, God has always been faithful through the Church’s good times and bad times, through the ups and downs, and we can count on His continued faithfulness because He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Not only that, as St. Paul says in Romans 8:28-30, God causes all things to work together for our good to those who love Him and to those whom He has called according to His purpose.
We say, “I don’t think I know,” however, we should say, “I am certain that God causes all things to work for good.” He is at work even now. We are at the end of the age, and God is already weeding out and working in His time, in His own wisdom, and at His own pace on the tares or on the bad fish and leaving only the good. The question is: why do we still see the suffering and the presence of evil? This is not what we know as God may be in the process and He is not yet done for He causes all things to work together for good. God knows how to do it for He is the Almighty God, the Omniscient One and the God of wisdom.
In Romans 8:31, St. Paul says, “What shall we say then? Since God is on our side, who can be against us?” If the Almighty God is for us, then, who will condemn us and who will destroy us? Who will separate us from the love of God? No one! No one will stop Him because He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Our Corporate Prayer says, “Grant unto us our allotted inheritance and the grace to build upon it facilities in which your people, being restored in Your image, and ever-growing in love for You...” Our Church building is an instrument where God will continue to mold us so that we will be restored in the image and likeness of His Son. As God is faithful, He who began a good work in the Cathedral of the King, in the CEC Churches in the Philippines, will be faithful to complete it. May our eyes see this so that we don’t lose our hope and our focus.
Our journey may involve trials, tribulations, disappointments, and even betrayals, but we also experience God’s blessings which far outweigh the negative things. Romans 8 say that all these sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed. All sufferings, all evil, all sickness, all sin, and all death will go and only that which eye has not seen nor ear have heard will remain and will bless us.
We can focus on things to complain about which sadly some people do or we can be wise and see the blessings for they far outnumber and far outweigh these other things that we tend to sometimes blow out of proportion.
In the gospel, Jesus talked about parables of the kingdom of God. One parable is about the hidden treasure. In the olden days, when bandits are heard to raid a certain village, the inhabitants would hide their wealth in the ground and leave. After some years, someone would be able to buy their land and discover the hidden wealth and they get blessed. What they do is to sell everything to buy the field where the treasure was found. Another parable is the parable of the pearl of the great price where pearls were extremely expensive and only kings and royalty were able to afford them. The man, after finding the pearl of great value, sold everything he had and purchased it.
Either way, when we discover the treasure of the kingdom of God, if we realize its value and that it is priceless, we should give everything we have so that we can obtain this treasure, the kingdom of God. The saddest thing that can happen to man is finding this treasure, hear the kingdom of God preached to him, and ignore it. We forget the blessing.
Real treasure is things old and new. We look at the good old days in our Church, the glory days, and we had treasure before. We learned from the lessons before the joy, the heartaches and God’s presence, but we must not forget that we have treasure in the new, in the present as well. We are blessed with the next generation which is upon us, and God can use them and outdo Himself and take us from one level of glory to another. Appreciate the old, the past; and we also appreciate the blessing of the new, the present. We look forward to the blessing of the future because the same God is at work now and will be at work in the future and He is the same God who was at worked in us in the past.
God is with us all the way. The song “Lord, You Are More Precious Than Silver” says, “He is more precious than silver, most costly than gold, more beautiful than diamonds. Nothing that we desire compares with Him.” We are told not to sing this because what we really want is wealth not God. Should we sing this song or should we not proclaim it? I say that we should proclaim it because if we value other things, God doesn’t change anything.
If one has an old basketball that is not useful anymore and is given a new one signed by a famous basketball star, will rejecting the new one be foolishness? Will we prefer “tuyo” instead of “lapu-lapu”? Would we reject owning a brand a new car because we have an old bike? Does it change the fact that if we choose the worthless compared to the priceless that the priceless is still valuable? Even if we pursue silver, gold and diamonds, and we prefer them to God’s kingdom, it doesn’t change the fact that God’s kingdom is still more precious. We can continue to sing the song until we realize that God is more precious, His kingdom is more precious than all these things that we foolishly pursue that the Gentiles do.
Rejecting God doesn’t take away from His value. It means that we are fools to reject His priceless kingdom and insist and prefer His other things that are a lot less of value. Pursuing worldly things doesn’t change the fact He is more precious. It means we miss out on a priceless treasure. We should wake up and give anything for this treasure, for this pearl of great value, and then we benefit from its infinite value.
In Kings 3, young Solomon asked God for wisdom for eyes to see the value of things so that he will realize the value of knowing God and His kingdom. St. Paul prayed in his letter to Philippians 3:7-9a in the NLT, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless … Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him.”
My prayer for us, as leader and shepherd, is for us to have eyes to see. I echo the prayer of St. Paul in Ephesians 1:18-19a, “That the glorious Father, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know Him better. I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which He has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised His holy people. And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe.”
This is true treasure! May we realize this and live according to this because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.