1 Kings 3, 5, 7-12, The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream one night.
Psalm 119, Lord, I love your commands.
Romans 8, 28-30, All things work for good who love God.
Matthew 13, 44-52, The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field.
Some of you are aware that Judy and I were recently in Iowa for a memorial celebration of her mother’s life. Judy’s mother came to what would be our birthplace in Iowa from a farm in Missouri to take Nurse’s training from nuns of the order of St. Francis who came from Peoria, Illinois. They had had been sent there some years earlier to serve in a hospital and to assist doctors who were also being trained in Keokuk. These nuns served another purpose for us by catechizing Marie; she received the sacraments of the Church there when she was 21. The good news of Jesus Christ, the treasure buried in the field, the pearl of great value, the net used by the disciples to catch men, and the instruction on the kingdom of heaven had become the desire of her heart.
This town where Judy and I were born has a beautiful park. It is the heart of the town and Judy began the first part of our memorial celebration of Marie there, with a reading from the Proverbs 31; the reading was part of the old spoken of in today’s gospel. The theme of our celebration was Marie as a giver of goodness and justice. I carried the theme forward with a reading that I gave to begin the service we had at the gravesite. It was from the Letter of James where he reminds a sect of Jewish Christians of the Perfect law, we are to love one another as Christ has loved us. This new way of loving had fulfilled the Royal law from Leviticus of the OT, to love your neighbor as yourself.
In our first reading today from First Kings, Solomon has asked God for an understanding heart so that he could better serve God’s people wisely. How were we shown this in 1 Kings? Recall the parable where Solomon determined which of the two prostitutes was the true mother of the child they had brought to him.
The wisdom that a scribe had read or heard about Solomon inspired him to construct that parable. We were told last week that the seed sown by Christ spoken of in the parable was the Father’s word given to us by his Son. Today we were told that the treasure buried in the field, and the pearl of great value and the net sown in the sea to capture people is the good news of Jesus Christ that fulfills the wisdom of Solomon of the first reading.
When the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the priests disappeared. Scribes who were the interpreters of the Law and Prophets were still involved in the Sabbath Synagogue Service for Jews. Recall that this service was built around a calendar of readings from the Law and the Prophets and the singing of the Psalms to praise God and a teaching by the Scribes on the OT reading. [It was the liturgy of the Word of the Jews.] For the Jews who became Christians, disciples of the kingdom of God, the Christian Liturgy of the Word would fulfill the Sabbath Synagogue Service. The gospel reading would fulfill the expectation of the coming of the Messiah given in the OT reading; the homily given on the gospel reading replaced the OT teaching. [This couldn’t happen, however, until the first gospel was written, copied and given to the Scribes. But who were the inspired writers of the gospels and its parables, and where did they come from?
I propose to you that today’s gospel reading suggests to us that a good number of Scribes had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah. They believed that the sayings and teachings and writings of Jesus fulfilled that expectation given within the Law and the Prophets. They not only believed but wanted a good news of the Messiah preserved. Inspired Scribes, who were rabbis and disciples of the kingdom of God, were like a head of a household who took from their treasure both the new and old. The old was taken by the scribes from the OT; the new taken from the writings, teachings and sayings of Jesus, or in the case of this Matthew gospel, from earlier gospels. The Sabbath Synagogue Service that kept Judaism alive they fulfilled by writing the gospels in parables so that Christianity, in harmony with the Law and Prophets, would be preserved.