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Remember those Mastercard commercials? “Airline tickets, $600… designer luggage, $175… spending a tropical vacation with the family, priceless! There are some things in life that money can’t buy…. for everything else there is Mastercard.”

Today’s Gospel calls us to consider what is truly valuable, as we hear familiar parables about hidden treasure, a pearl of great price, and the priceless nature of the kingdom of God.

Jesus invites us to transform our thinking. He doesn’t want us to imagine God’s kingdom in ways that make us passive subjects. It’s dynamic. The coming of God’s kingdom is personal. It speaks of God’s passionate desire for us.

God sees us, even in our sin, as treasures, pearls of great price, and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice His only Son so that we might be redeemed and become His own … It’s all about the gift!

And what of our response in recognizing that gift; that pearl of great price that each of us are in God’s eyes? We are commissioned to go and do likewise, by giving ourselves away for others… become that gift to one another. St Paul called it: “being conformed to the image of the Son.” Our St. Dominic mission statement doesn’t say it any better: “...become Christ, each one for the sake of all.”

Aha! Moments

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Have you ever had an “aha” moment?  One of those flashes of surprise or awe when something unexpected happens? I am always astonished when one of those moments happen either to me or to someone else. One might say, “Oh, it’s a coincidence,” but is it really? If you take a closer look at today’s second reading at Mass, you’ll find the explanation to those coincidences. Of course, it’s the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, which dwells in all of us, knows exactly what we need, when we need it, expressing those needs to the Father in “inexpressible groanings.” And the one who searches hearts (the Father) knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. (Romans 8:27) That’s when the aha moments happen, particularly when we need them most, to boost our faith, or push us in the other direction when we are in doubt or fear. So, the next time you feel the holy coincidence, know that the Spirit is at work in your life.

Be Enlightened by Jesus

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The Gospel for today is a well-known passage: the Parable of the Sower and Seed. And while every reflection I have ever heard on this Gospel focuses on contemplating what seed we are, I want to draw our attention elsewhere. I want to focus on the section that scares us, the section that we tend to ignore because we aren’t quite sure what to do with it.

When asked why He speaks in parables, Jesus says, “Gross is the heart of this people…they have closed their eyes lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted.” This is a harsh condemnation for the people in Jesus’ community. But as I read these words, I cannot help but find them applicable even now.

We have become a people so defined by our political affiliation that we can’t have friends with opposing views, or have civil discourse on matters of global significance. Instead of letting the Gospel dictate our politics, we have let our politics dictate our Gospel. We have fashioned Jesus in the image and likeness of party values, forgetting that it is us who were fashioned in His image and likeness. It is us who close our eyes and ears to the parts of the Gospel that don’t fit with our political doctrine. It is us whose hearts have grown gross and refuse to be converted by the entirety of the Gospel message.

But we are called to be disciples. We are called to see what others do not see, to hear what others do not hear, to be enlightened by Jesus first, party affiliation second…or last. We are called to be the unifiers, to stand in the middle ground, to be mediators and bridge builders. This is challenging work in a system that makes it ‘either/or.’ But as Christians, let us be the ‘and.’

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