God wants to do amazing things in your life—so let him!

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: July 24, 2011
1 Kg 3:5, 7-12; Ps 119; Rom 8:28-30; Matt 13:44-52

When I was much younger, and I heard these parables from Jesus about the Pearl of Great Price and the Treasure in the Field, I would wonder: How could that possibly work? After all, in the parable, Jesus says that the person who finds the pearl and the treasure “sells all that he has and buys it.” And I would think: He sold everything? His house; his donkey and cart; his tools; his clothes; his food? So now he has nothing at all except this pearl or whatever treasure was buried in the field! Now what? What does he eat? Where does he live? What good would a pearl do for you, if that’s all you had?

But the kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of God, is different. Because to gain the Kingdom of God is to begin a special relationship with God that he has made possible, and that we accept and agree to. And while it is true that owning a pearl and nothing else wouldn’t do you much good, to have a relationship with God and nothing else would be amazing. For the Lord is all-powerful, all-good, all-loving; he can supply you with everything you need. As St. Paul wrote to us in the second reading, he makes all things work for good—all things, even the hard and difficult experiences that we don’t like—all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. If you have God, then you have everything you’ll ever truly need.

As I remember that childhood memory, in this homily I want to speak especially to the young people among us. I hope that, for those of us who are older, it can be a good review and encouragement as well.

And so these men in Christ’s parables don’t sell everything they have reluctantly—they do it out of joy, joy at what they’re about to gain. And do you know that there are some people who God asks to live this quite literally? These are those men and women who he calls to join religious orders, to become monks and nuns, or religious brothers and sisters, and to make the vow of poverty, along with other vows. As one young Dominican sister in Michigan said in a video clip I saw: “If I’m professing the vow of poverty, I really mean I don’t want to own anything. I want God to be my only treasure.” And she says it with joy. All of them have that joy! And their lives are like giant billboards reminding us, and the whole world: God alone is enough. God alone suffices.

And God may be calling some of you young people here today to the joy of the religious life.

Now, we heard about a young person in our first reading, named Solomon, about 3000 years ago. Now, Solomon was the son of King David, and his father had just died; so he was becoming king. And how old was Solomon then? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but scholars try to figure it out: some think he may have been 18; some, in his 20s; some, as young as 12 years old! And so for anyone who is one of those ages now, or who remembers being one of those ages, it can be easy to understand why Solomon was worried. How could he live up to all that would be expected of him as king? How could he ever do it?

Now, we heard that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night and said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” It’s a little like those stories of genies coming out of a lamp and granting wishes!—except that this is real. For our all-powerful God really can fulfill any promise he makes. What would you ask God for, if you could ask any one thing? Solomon could have asked for riches—but he didn’t. He could have asked for a long life—but he didn’t. He could have asked for all his enemies to be defeated—but he didn’t ask that either.

No, what Solomon wanted was not things for himself—ambitions, desires, lifestyle. He wanted to fulfill the mission that had been given to him. He wanted to be a good king, who was faithful to God and did good for his people. And so he asked for wisdom—for an understanding heart so that he could know what was right and govern the people justly and well. So Solomon was not asking just for what he wanted for himself, but rather for what he needed to serve other people and fulfill the mission that the Lord had given him. And so we read that this pleased the Lord very much.

Do you know that the Lord has also given you a mission? Every person here at this Mass! And it is not to become the king of the People of Israel, like Solomon. No, it is higher and harder than that! We heard St. Paul tell us in our second reading that God has called us according to his purpose. And what is that purpose that God has for us? It is to be conformed to the image of his Son—to become just like Jesus.

And what is Jesus like? He was wiser than Solomon—and he taught many people important truths. He was able to touch and heal many people who were afraid and suffering. He never did anything wrong to anyone; never was selfish or unkind. He obeyed his Heavenly Father completely, in total surrender. He wasn’t afraid of anyone, and so nothing could stop the power of his love. He is the Savior who redeemed us from sin and death. That is what Jesus is like.

God the Father wants to make you just like Jesus. And what do we call someone who is just like Jesus? We usually call them a saint. God wants you to become a saint! That is your mission; that is what he calls you to.

Now that applies to everyone here. But each of you has another special mission, a special calling or vocation, that is how you are going to get there. And that is the state of life or path of life that God is calling you to. What could that be? Well, if you’re a boy or a young man, it could be that God is calling you to become a priest like me; or a monk or religious brother; or a husband and father, like so many men here today. And if you’re a girl or a young woman, it could be that God is calling you to become a nun or religious sister; or a wife and mother, like so many women here today. These are the possibilities. Now, don’t think that any of these callings is more important than another one, or easier or harder than another one, or more or less exciting than another one. The vocation that God has created you for is the one that will make you a saint, if you live it faithfully; it “will need all the love you can give, every day of your life, for as long as you live”; it will be much harder than you ever imagined, and much more wonderful than you ever imagined.

So, if you are young and have not yet discovered what special mission or vocation God has for you—then please pray regularly, asking God to reveal it to you, and to give you the grace you will need to say yes. And if you are already living your vocation, please live it as faithfully as Christ, and as generously as Christ, holding nothing back. And even if you are surrounded by others who shape their life only according to their own plans—remember that the Kingdom of God is that amazing treasure that is worth selling everything to gain, out of joy.

As another joyful young Dominican sister has said: “God has created you out of infinite love—and he wants to do unbelievable, phenomenal, surprising things in your life, beyond your wildest dreams. So—let him!”

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