SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY A Homily by Fr. Matthias Lusembo
THEME: LET US SACRIFICE WHATEVER WE CAN TO GAIN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Homework: Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 1023 -1032
What is a Kingdom? Kingdom implies a territory with a people whose ruler has absolute power. In my tribe of the Baganda of Buganda in Uganda we understand this easily because we have had kings for over seven centuries. The Kingdom of Heaven has God as its Absolute Ruler. In Mark 1:15, Jesus begins his teaching by declaring: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” If a human being who has never created anybody, on whom people have no absolute dependence for survival and destiny can claim to be an Absolute Ruler, how about God, the Creator, Sustainer and Possessor of the destiny of human beings?
It is actually God who has absolute power over all peoples and the entire universe. Whoever has power over people is ruling in the name of God. So, he or she must rule in obedience to God’s commandments. King Solomon understood this very well. That is why, as soon as he was made King, he asked God for wisdom so that he could lead God’s people as God wanted (1Kigs 3:5-12).
What is Heaven? In catechism I learnt that heaven is the place where saints see God and rejoice with him forever. I also learnt that God is in heaven, on earth and everywhere. This seems to imply that heaven is everywhere where God is. We can generalize and call it a state of eternal happiness with God.
In the gospel text (Mt 13: 44-52), Jesus gives us three parables to explain the Kingdom of Heaven: In the first parable he teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that one finds in a field and buries it again and then buys that piece of land. By this parable Jesus means that the Kingdom of heaven is gratuitous. Jesus suffered, died and rose from the dead to open the Kingdom of Heaven to all peoples.
In the second parable, Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for precious pearls. When he/she finds one of great value, he/she sells everything and buys it. By this parable Jesus means that even if he gratuitously opened heaven to us, we have to search and sacrifice in order to enter it.
In the third parable Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of heaven is like a net, which, when dragged through the sea or lake collects both the good fish and the bad. The good fish are put in a bucket, the bad ones are thrown away. This means that we have to qualify for the Kingdom of Heaven, because, according Revelation 21:27, nothing unclean shall enter the New Jerusalem (Kingdom of Heaven).
We have to be purified, obey God’s commands, feed on the divine DNA without which we cannot live eternally, because we are mortal and then we have to be generous.
Jesus summarizes the conditions of belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven as follows:
- “Unless one is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Jn 3:5). That means one has to be baptized to burry wickedness and live a saintly life.
- “Not those who call me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who do the will of my Father.” (Mt 7:21). In Mt 19:17 Jesus shows that the will of the Father is expressed by His commandments.
- Jesus knows that due to our weakness we can break God’s commandments, so he warns us in Luke 13:3 “unless you repent you will all perish.” Since he is so compassionate, in John 20:23 he gives us the opportunity to repent and be cleansed. “Those whose sins you will forgive will be forgiven.” We need to sacrifice our pride that made the first people miss heaven (paradise) and use the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance).
- Jesus knows that being mortal we cannot live with him eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven. So, he urges us to share in his Divine DNA, that is eternal. In John 6:53-54, he declares: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” That means, it is necessary to receive his risen body and blood, soul and divinity.
- Lastly Jesus demands generosity towards the needy, because in Matthew 25:35-36, he declares that those who will have assisted the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the strangers, or prisoners, will be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus suffered and died and now he gives us his body and blood so that we may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So, let us sacrifice whatever we can, time, talent, and treasure, pride, anger, wickedness, bad habits, so that we may gain the Kingdom of Heaven and rejoice with Jesus forever.