17th Sunday in Ordinary Time July 30th, 2017

     A old woman in Scotland was so poor that the community had to support her, even though her son had come to America and had become very wealthy.  "Why doesn't John help his mother?"  the neighbors often whispered.  

     One day a neighbor dropped in and suggested that her son would surely help her if he knew of her need.  Mother-like she defended her son:  "Oh, John is so thoughtful, but he needs all his money.  He is a good boy.  See, he writes to me every week-the nicest letters!  And in every letter he sends a picture.  They are strange pictures though she said.  "Did you save them?, asked the neighbor.  "Oh, sure," replied the mother, as she reached for her Bible.  "I save all his letters and put the pictures in the Good Book."  Between the leaves of her Bible the visitor found hundreds of United States Bank Notes, more than enough to keep his mother in comfort.  She had a treasure but did not know it.  It was right in front of her and she did not know it.

     Jesus in the Gospel today told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a hidden treasure which a man found in a field.  He sold all he had and brought that field.  All that he had.  The treasure Jesus is talking about which is worth everything is our faith-which makes us members of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The treasure is our faith in Christ, and His Catholic Church, our belief that He is both God and man, that He saved us on the cross, and through the Sacraments of the Church we have the most means of attaining Heaven;  that is, if we are faithful to Him in life.

     Like the unknowing mother in our story today, too many Catholics do not realize what a treasure that they have have in our Catholic Faith-possessing the fullness of the Truth of Christ.  As Catholic Christians, we have everything-everything spiritual. that is.  All of us should be like the man in the parable ready to "sell" all we have to get the Faith and keep the Faith.  Thank God, practically all of us here have this Faith.  It was given to most of us with little or no effort on our part, since most of us are cradle Catholics.  But, to keep the Faith, to nourish and strengthen it, demands some sacrifice on our part. 

     Just what is our understanding of sacrifice?  Sacrifice in the Old Testament was the most important act.  Why?  Because it was an offering to God that made what was offered a victim in place of the one who was offering it.  To make reparation before God.  It also acknowledged God's absolute majesty.  You and I made sacrifices when we offer to God anything that places His Holy Will over our own:  When we offer our own personal goods to help those in need-When we offer time in prayer in thanksgiving for the many gifts we have received-When we truly thank Him in gratitude-When we sacrifice activities that we would prefer in order to let someone else have it their way.  Why do we do all this?  Because we are reminded of the need for sacrifice in our lives every time we look at the crucifix, or gaze at Our Lord upon this altar or in the tabernacle or displayed in a monstrance.  Because only true love is proven by sacrifice, only true love is proven by sacrifice.  Folks, you and I must offer sacrifice in our Christian lives to make reparation for all our transgressions against God and to ask Him for forgiveness.  When we sacrifice to God, we are reminded that we owe everything to Him and are constantly dependent on Him.

     Sacrifices make us yearn for God and His Love, which also, in turn, help us to promote our friendship and loyalty to Him. We know the "pearl of great price" -the buried treasure.  Are we willing to sacrifice whatever is required to possess the pearly of great price, the buried treasure?  Are we willing to sacrifice in order that others may come to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified?  We, unlike the old mother in Scotland, know what treasure we have.  Shouldn't we want to share our Faith-this understanding of the meaning of sacrifice with other Catholics, especially making sure they understand that the Holy Mass is the once and for all All-Perfect and ultimate sacrifice in which perfect reparation is made to God?

     If you only remember one thing from this homily, I hope it is this-Sacrifice is summed up in love, and if you want to know what true love is, you will remember that is is proven by sacrifice.  Jesus showed us, we should show Him enough to go and do the same!  By coming to every Holy Mass we can in gratitude for what we have!

Yet, will we?