Sunday, July 26, 2020

Praying the Sunday Gospel: Joy in the Kingdom

 Opening Prayer
Holy One, your kingdom and your glory take us by surprise- like a tiny mustard seed growing into a great tree where birds make their home; like a treasure hidden in a field, or a pearl of great price. Thank you for the greatest joy and abundance of your kingdom. Give us grace to surrender to you that which weighs too heavily on us today. We offer you these moments as we worship you in thanksgiving for all you have done for us in Jesus our Christ. Amen.

Psalm 105:1-11
give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.  Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham,  his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,  to Israel as an everlasting covenant,  saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.’

Prayer of Confession
Father eternal, giver of light and grace, we have sinned against you and against our neighbor; in what we have thought, in what we have said and done, through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate neglect. We have wounded your love and marred your image in us. We are sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen.

Words of Pardon (based on Psalm 130)
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!

 A Reading from Anthony De Mello, S.J., Discovering Life
The sannyasi is the wandering mendicant. This is the person who, having attained enlightenment, understands that the whole world is his home and the sky is his roof, and God is his father and will look after him, so he moves from place to place the way you and I would move from one room of our home to another.

"Here was this wandering sannyasi, and the villager, when he meets him, says, 'I cannot believe this.' "And the sannyasi says, 'What is it you cannot believe?'" And the villager says, 'I had a dream about you last night. I dreamt that the Lord Vishnu said to me, "Tomorrow morning, you will leave the village around 11 o'clock, and you'll run into this wandering sannyasi." And here, I've met you.'" 'What else did the Lord Vishnu say to you?' asks the sannyasi. "And the man replies, 'He said to me, "If the man gives you a precious stone he has, you will be the richest man in the whole world." Would you give me the stone?' "So the sannyasi says, 'Wait a minute.' He rummages in his little knapsack that he had. He asks, 'Would this be the stone you're talking about?' And the man couldn't believe his eyes because it was a diamond — the largest diamond in the world. "He holds the diamond in his hands and he asks, 'Could I have this?' "And the sannyasi says, 'Of course, you could take it. I found it in a forest. You're welcome to it.' And he goes on, and sits under a tree on the outskirts of the village. The man grasps this diamond, and how great is his joy.

"So, the guy has the diamond. And then instead of going home, he sits under a tree, and all day he sits, immersed in thought. And toward evening, he goes to the tree where the sannyasi is sitting, gives him back the diamond, and says, 'Could you do me a favor?' 'What?' says the sannyasi. " 'Could you give me the riches that make it possible for you to give this thing away so easily?' "

Gospel    Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’‘ The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

Appearances deceive. The tiniest of seeds becomes a tree so large that it provides nests for birds. A small amount of yeast, snaps and fizzes its way into “three measures” of flour, transforming the whole mixture into enough bread for 100 people! This is how God reigns and rules, according to Jesus. It’s through the miniscule, insignificant, and unseen.

Such is the way with life lived in God’s kingdom. The one and only gift of my life- given to me by God- is this the hidden treasure and pearl of great price? I regularly look for something or someone outside of myself to come in and fix things, to make me happy, give me peace, or to solve problems. But the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price is right in front of me every day I live and breathe. It’s the one and only gift of my life, created in God’s own image and likeness. This is life created in love, so that we can love and bless the whole world.    
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.  We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.  Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. This we pray in the name of Christ, who taught us, saying [The Lord’s Prayer]: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine in the kingdom, and power, and glory forever. Amen.   

Blessing: The peace of all peace be yours this day and night in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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