1 Kgs 3: 5. 7-12
Rom 8: 28-30
Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.
Mt 13: 44-52
Jesus said to the crowd: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
In the Gospel, Jesus describes what the Kingdom is like. First he says, it is very valuable, like a treasure worth everything one has. But it is not something static, buried somewhere, waiting to be found. Second, it is alive, dynamic and it searches like a merchant searching for pearls. And last, that it is going to get what it wants, like a net that catches all sorts of fish.
Today is Fil-Mission Sunday. Our national hero, Jose Rizal, once described the Philippines as “the Pearl of the Orient.” And Ninoy Aquino once said something to that effect when he uttered the very famous “the Filipino is worth dying for.” These great men saw something bright, and valuable and beautiful in the Filipino, like what God has been saying all along, that all people are pearls. All means all. And I guess when we speak of Fil-Mission, it would be to affirm and claim our worth as a people. The president, when he was still campaigning, had the beautiful slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” (No one is poor if there is no corruption). I used to have this classmate at grade school who stole money so he could buy cool clothes and eat classy snacks. He thought he was so insignificant that he needed clothes and food to feel good and important. But of course, he was just a kid. Many of us are kids who have not really grown up unfortunately. We are so insecure that we need to steal so we can have all the money to buy those things that glitter so we could feel good about ourselves. Fil- Mission is to say to the Filipino: “Grow up! And, for heaven’s sake, stop lying under the mango tree waiting for fruit to drop! Do what every grown up does, stand up and climb on the tree, or get a ladder or cut it…whatever, just do something!”
Meanwhile, we send missionaries abroad. Some say, we have no right to do that because the Philippines is corrupt and poor and so on. Well, if we wait for the Philippines to be rich before we send out missionaries, then we may never be able to send missionaries at all. St. Paul once said that he came trembling when he went out to preach the Gospel. As Filipino missionaries we tremble, we shudder at the thought of bringing the Gospel to people who are richer, brighter, and bigger and yes maybe even whiter, but we bring the Treasure of great price. We are agents of that dynamic Merchant, who promises to catch them all, like fishes in the net. The Filipino missionary is there, not because he is good or rich or bright, but because he accepts and is sent.
– Fr. Dante Barril, SVD (Rome, Italy)