July 24, 2011
Readings for: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
The Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times on Monday, July 18, 2011 featured an article by J. Anderson Thomson titled "Imagine no religion". The letter intended to prove that religion was a creation of the human mind and that the world would be better off without any religion. According to Mr. Thomson, religion’s evidence of divine existence is grounded on psychological adaptations, mechanisms, and neurological explanations. I do not believe that the greatest theologians or apologist could ever convince Mr. Thomson that God exists. It is a sad reality that many will spend their lives resisting the precious gift of God's love. It is equally sad that many who have been raised in the faith choose not to practice their faith and live an equally empty life.
There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old men of the desert why it is that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city. The old monk told him, "Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night. After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. "Do you understand," the old man said, "what I have told you?" "No," replied the young monk, "please tell me father." "It is simple," said the Desert Father, "my dog saw the rabbit."
This is the message found in today's gospel parable. After finding a treasure buried in a field the man is willing to sell all that he has in order to buy the field and obtain the treasure; or the merchant is willing to sell all that he has to buy the perfect pearl. Once faith is discovered there is nothing that can ever replace it. In 382 A.D., after converting to the faith at the age of 32, St. Augustine prayed: "Too late, have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved Thee! Thou wast with me, and I was not with Thee; I was abroad, running after those beauties which Thou hast made; those things which could have no being but in Thee kept me away from Thee. Thou hast called, Thou hast cried out, and hast pierced my deafness. Thou hast enlightened, Thou hast shone forth, and my blindness is dispelled. I have tasted Thee, and am hungry of Thee. Thou hast touched me, and I am afire with the desire of thy embraces."
Part of the beauty of Easter is sharing in the joy of those who are newly received into the faith. These last couple months I have encounter a number of men and women who are so excited that their search for faith has led them to the Catholic Church.
Today, July 24 lands on the feast of St. Christina who was martyred about 300 A.D. She was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urban who was deep in the practices of paganism and had a number of golden idols. Christina broke them and distributed the pieces among the poor. Her father, infuriated by this act became the because of her torture and death, yet Christina remained unshaken in her faith till the end.
Rev. John F. Provenza