Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isn’t Jesus worth the gamble of our changing our lives?

In the parables from our Gospel for this Sunday, we encounter God’s gracious rule— take the plunge,it is worth whatever we must change or give up, finding peace and joy—and to find God. I went through a period of life—not giving up much of anything, in fact the opposite, my life was off the chart as far as church teachings and sin— all confessional matter of the past, and I’m not sharing that with you for sure. Thank God for the Sacrament! God got me—back, and I experienced his cleansing love. I revolutionized my entire lifestyle. As some of you know, I sold or gave away all my possessions except what was needed to get through the requirements of Dominican religious life that included a vow of poverty. It was liberating—or so I thought.

Ironically, I have learned in over 35 years of striving to live Christ–is that possessions are not merely material, are they? To get what we always wanted and needed the sacrifice begins with an inventory of possessions—not only material, but mostly non-material things that are obstructions to our faith conversion and peace.

Possessions of an egocentric life can be an even larger stumbling block to having the pearl of great price–the life of Jesus in us. Possessions of being judgmental of others, harboring resentment-lacking forgiveness, or possessions of arrogant pride—eliminate the room for possessing peace and joy, the love of Jesus in us, yet isn’t that what we hunger for the most?

Taking inventory includes a review of our past. All of us can look back on our lives and note numerous negative mistakes in our past. We need to stop persecuting ourselves by dwelling on the negatives of our past.   To dwell on the past clouds our entire view on the present and the future. Come to the Sacrament of Forgiveness to be healed so you can leave the past in the past.  Conversely, it is not arrogant or prideful to recognize the freely given gifts from the Lord. He calls us to utilize our potential, make our talents real in the present—that we may spend the treasure on others.

The Lord wants to fill us with his joy and peace, so that we rejoice in ourselves and who we are in Him. Such growth demands we let go of the mistakes of the past.  If sin was involved, the sacrament of Reconciliation is given to us to leave the past in the past and to concentrate on the present and make a better future not only for ourselves but for the people around us.

At times people in confession will say “for these and all the sins of my past I am sorry.” I remind them that God’s forgiveness and absolution took care of those sins, why bring them up again? There is also a fear that at death God will judge us for all the bad things we’ve done; —that denies His gift of the Sacrament of Confession, Communion, and Anointing of the sick in our Catholic faith.

We are human beings, and with that fact come human errors—the need for Jesus and for one another—the way God created us. We can learn from our mistakes, or perhaps at times, we may fail to learn and be paralyzed by them, and then not find what we’ve always wanted and needed. However, to do so we need help from Christ in His Sacraments. Perhaps even counseling and spiritual direction should be added.

For example, as in the case of abortion whereby a person has deep psychological and emotional scars, seek the Sacrament and such programs as Rachel’s Vineyard, and post abortion counseling that supports forgiveness and healing through Christ. At times, I also include the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, which also brings emotional/psychological, and spiritual healing and forgiveness. If you or someone you know is suffering from these issues, please see me for help—of course it will be held under the sacramental seal. 

We also have helpful programs for grief and bereavement, and counseling for persons who are divorced—there are many ways to get help and bring pain into the wellness through Reconciliation in the treasure of Jesus including the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

In counseling married couples, we discuss those painful situations that need healing, but not at the price of overlooking all the good they have accomplished. Also claim the support given to one another; what they have achieved as a loving couple. If the past is troubling and continues to be a source of pain, I encourage them to claim the past out loud—to let the past be there, but not pick at the scars and cause the bleeding repeatedly. Through prayer together, naming, claiming, and offering it to the treasure of Jesus’ love for one another, the present and future become brighter.

If you are not able to participate in the Sacraments, you are welcome to seek spiritual direction from those who are qualified Catholic directors that can help. There are avenues to wellness to provide healing love.

As we learn from our gospel for today, to get the “gift” the pearl, the investment is giving our complete self to the Lord. Isn’t Jesus worth the gamble of our changing our lives?