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Only you, Lord

July 27, 2014

Solomon (13)
A reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30 and Matthew 13:44-52.

Can you imagine God appearing to you in a dream and telling you to ask for anything – that He would give you anything you want? What would you ask for?

I think I would be the first to ask for enough money to make sure I can pay my mortgage – and enough money to pay for my kids’ university. And if I had a lot of money I could donate it to charity or do something great for the Church. Maybe I’d ask to have someone cured of an illness, or that I wouldn’t be so selfish. And after thinking about what I want, with a tinge of guilt I’d ask for peace between Israel and Hamas; and peace for Christians in Iraq – peace in Ukraine and peace in Venezuela… Isn’t it true that we’d probably tend to think about what we want for ourselves first? And it’s not wrong. It’s not a bad thing for me to pay my mortgage or to put my kids through university. It’s not like I’m asking to be a rock star or to take over the world. I’d like to have a super power, like fire bending… What would you ask for?

I recently heard a talk at a Conference by Fr. Jim Sullivan, OP who told us a story about St. John of the Cross, who was a Carmelite priest and a mystic. Jesus spoke to him and said, “you’ve done well; what would you like as a reward?” And – we shouldn’t respond what St. John responded – St. John of the Cross said, “to suffer and to be despised because of you.” We shouldn’t answer what St. John of the Cross answered; we have to be careful what we ask for, ‘cause we might get it.
At that same conference, I met  a deacon who 30 years ago was a seminarian and as a young seminarian he prayed that he wanted to one day serve a Mass with Pope John Paul II. But a couple of years later, he ended up leaving the seminary – he wasn’t called to the priesthood – he got married, he had a job and forgot about what he had asked for. 20 years later, he’s a permanent deacon and Pope John Paul II is coming to Toronto for WYD 2002 and he gets a call. “Want to be a deacon for the Closing Mass of WYD?” So he got to serve a Mass with Pope John Paul II. Be careful what you ask for, because you may get it. God cares what you want. In the second reading St. Paul says that good things come to those who love God. That’s because God cares about what’s good for us, what we need; but also what we want.

When I was about eight years old I was with my grandmother and we were in a shopping centre and walked past a toy store and I saw in the window a little toy detective set. It had a little gun and a holster so you could carry the gun under your jacket and little plastic handcuffs and a magnifying glass… everything you need to be a young detective, and I said out loud, “I wish I had this.” I didn’t really expect to get it – I probably didn’t really want it – I knew I didn’t need it – but I said that out loud. The next day my grandma calls me and says that she got me something. She had bought me that toy detective set. I was grateful, but I felt bad, because I didn’t need that. And I knew that my grandma didn’t need to spend $20 on a toy that I didn’t need. I had lots of toys. And my grandma knew that, but she cared about what I wanted. She wanted me to be happy. And I am the same with my kids. I care about all the little insignificant things that they want. God is the same. God cares about all the little things that we want. God cares that a newly wedded couple has wine at their wedding. He cares that we have wine! God cares about all your little, petty, insignificant, irrelevant desires.

But He also knows that we don’t know what we need or what’s good for us. We need heaven. But we don’t understand what that is or how badly we need it and so Jesus spends all this time trying to explain it: “the Kingdom of Heaven is like this…” or “like that.” The Kingdom of Heaven is like the greatest treasure – or a pearl of the greatest price. And if we knew that, if we understood that, we’d give everything we own to have it, to be there. What do you want so badly that you would sell everything you own to have? Is there anything that you’d give your life for?

There’s a beautiful Psalm, Psalm 42, that says, “Like a deer longs for running streams, so I long for you.” And Psalm 63 says, “my soul is thirsting for you my God.” Is there anything that you long for so much, like a thirsty man in the desert thirsts for water? Psalm 27 says, “One thing I ask, this alone I seek; to dwell in the house of the Lord all my days; to behold the beauty of the Lord.” What do you long for?

Fr. Jim Sullivan, OP told us another story, this one about St. Thomas Aquinas (who was also a Dominican) who was praying in front of the crucifix and Jesus spoke to him, “You’ve written well of me Thomas. What would you like to be your reward?” St. Thomas Aquinas answered what we all should answer, “Non nisi te, Domine”. That’s what we all should respond. “Non nisi te, Domine” means “none but you, Lord”; “only you, Lord.”

Today, as we receive the Eucharist may we pray for the Grace to long for, to thirst and hunger for that great treasure, the pearl of greatest prize, who is God, the God who cares about our little, petty desires; but wants nothing more than for us to be in Heaven with Him. So that when asked, we too can respond like St. Thomas Aquinas, “non nisi te, Domine”, “only you, Lord.”

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From → English, Reflections

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