17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

OUT OF JOY

by Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

We are instructed this week, once again, about the Kingdom of Heaven – this time compared to treasure buried in a field which a person finds and hides again and OUT OF JOY goes and sells all that they have to buy the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working with a gentleman in order to restore and preserve the Stations of the Cross in our church.   As soon as I read the Gospel, I thought of him. We have done previous work with him before, and there is a reason I went back to him to help us with the Stations, but this project has been different. He has stopped everything else to restore our Stations. Out of joy, he has been brought to tears as he discusses with me the latest small achievement in the process. He has noticed details that I have never noticed, and while he is not a Christian, it is clear that he has been touched by Jesus’ Passion as depicted in the art. Many times in our conversations, this man says that he is giving God his very best and it is making him so very happy.

This is the joy we read about in the Gospel. It is the gift that we receive when we return to God everything that we have received.

We are also told that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. Only after it is hauled ashore, do they sort out what is good and what is bad.

“Here comes everyone,” my Novice Master used to tell me whenever he spoke about the Catholic Church. While many people think of the summer as a more leisurely time, our parish staff has been working quite hard responding to the many people coming to our door. Each story is unique; however, none is uncommon. People come to this parish with a desire to open themselves up to the kind of hope and joy that does not disappoint.

It is hard work, and it requires all that we have. For my part, the summer months have required my everything, and yet I don’t know that I would change it even if I could. Each night I go to bed knowing that I (along with the rest of our staff and volunteers) gave God everything – and there is no joy I have found to compete with that. May we all know such joy.