Homily for the seventeenth Sunday of the Year
Year A

1 Kings 3:5 & 7-12 - Rom 8:28-30 - Mt 13:44-52

by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen

What is new and what is old

1 Kings 3:5 & 7-12

1 Kings 3:5, At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, «Ask what I shall give you.» 7, Solomon replied, «O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8, And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. 9, Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?» 10, It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11, And God said to him, «Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.»

This Sunday's first reading recounts a dream of Solomon, son of the great King David. Solomon is invited by the Lord to ask of him anything he wants. Now, guided and inspired by the Spirit of God, Solomon asks his Lord and Master not for earthly riches, but for the most perfect human wisdom, necessary for governing his kingdom well.

Solomon is newness personified, declared as such by the Lord himself: "I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you." (1 Kings 3:12) No one before Solomon had received such wisdom from God: Solomon was truly something new! And Solomon would not be followed by one wiser than him: "So that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you." (1 Kings 3:12)

This newness makes Solomon an image and a living representation of the Wise One par excellence, Christ, the One Anointed by the Holy Spirit, he who plumbs the depths of all things and who knows all, being the very Wisdom of God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11). Nevertheless, Jesus will say: "The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." (Lk 11:31)

This means that Solomon, by his desire to be wise and to spread about the wisdom he had received from God, announces the coming of Christ, the Word, the Word of Life: Solomon is the old wisdom that announces the coming of the new and eternal Wisdom spread by Christ like an ineffable scent! Truly, while Solomon is new, he is also old.

Rom 8:28-30

Rom 8:28, We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. 29, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 30, And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Lord not only spoke to Solomon in a dream (cf. 1 Kings 3:5), but he himself also, and first, dreamed of Christ, his Son, his Word whom he eternally begets in the Holy Spirit. Now, in thinking of Christ, the Lord also thought of all the men and women who, throughout time, witnessed to their love for God and for Christ: by conceiving them in his Spirit, the Lord gave all the elect, in advance, the benefit of his eternal Wisdom. Thus, from day to day, throughout human history, there arose and appeared in the world people who were like new Christs, destined to spread about the true and unique Wisdom of God!

Nonetheless, just as Solomon announced the coming of the unique Wise One, who is Christ, all the Christian faithful announce the second coming of Christ. From this perspective, Christians are not so much new Christs as pale reflections preceding in time and manifesting in a fragmentary way the Christ who will come. The Christian faithful are, like Solomon, not only new, but also old.

Mt 13:44-52

Mt 13:44, Jesus said, «The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48, when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49, So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51, Have you understood all this?» They said to him, «Yes.» 52, And he said to them, «Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.»

"Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." This famous phrase of the Lord can be interpreted in different ways. If we follow what we have been saying here in commenting on the first two readings for this Sunday, let us remember what Saint Paul said. First of all, this: "You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God." (2 Cor 3:3) And then this: "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." (Col 3:9-10)

So if the scribe, of whom Jesus speaks, reads or writes some letter or document, then this person (the scribe) is someone who is engaging in reflection in order to examine himself and his conscience. This man or woman who wants at any price to one day live, for eternity, in the Kingdom of God, then makes the firm resolution to cast off the old man in order to put on the new man, who is Christ. In short, he absolutely wants to repent and to live according to the gospel! He wants to follow the command of Christ that inaugurated his ministry: "Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mk 1:15)

May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us on our road to conversion, so that the Kingdom of God might forever be our Homeland!

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