The World’s Greatest Prize

August 2, 2017 – Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (mpoletunow@malvernretreat.com)

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (13:44-46)

Jesus said to his disciples:
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.”

 

Reflect: When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. In this parable we hear that people find something of such great value that in joy they are willing to dispose of everything they have to purchase a field with a buried treasure or an exquisite and valuable pearl. Jesus speaks to his listeners with these earthly examples so that they might begin to grasp the significance and value of the Kingdom of heaven. In the gospel we find people selling everything they have because nothing is more important than what they have found. They have to have it. Their eyes are on the prize. Jesus is trying to instruct his listeners about the importance of the Kingdom of heaven. Underlying his message is one of setting priorities. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. In a practical way, Jesus asks us to think about the most valuable material object that we can imagine; something we might desire in our wildest dreams. If we hit the lottery and were able to purchase whatever that is, would we be willing to give it all up to possess the Kingdom of God? Today is a great Franciscan feast: Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula because in that tiny church Saint Francis of Assisi experienced a powerful and formative step in his own conversion; one that led him to sacrifice all that he had for the Kingdom of God.

Questions: What do I seek with all my heart? Is that going to change my life and bring me closer to God? What are my priorities – is seeking God and his Kingdom at the top of the list? What is holding me back from giving myself over completely to the divine will of God?

Pray: Loving God, there is nothing greater than you. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, on your words, on your way so that I can seek your Kingdom above anything else. Help me to never lose heart.  I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Our Lady of the Angels: Pray for us!

At the foot of the mountain on which Assisi is situated, hermits from Palestine had built an oratory in the first centuries of the Christian era. This oratory together with a small plot of land was given to St Benedict in the 6th century. The name Portiuncula, that is, Little Portion, is supposed to have been derived from the transfer of this small piece of property. The little church was called Saint Mary of the Angels, and the inhabitants of Assisi went there frequently to pray. When St Francis of Assisi forsook the world, it was his first pious act to restore this sanctuary of the Queen of heaven, which had become somewhat dilapidated. Many extraordinary favors were granted to him in this little church of the Portiuncula. The Queen of heaven designated this place as the cradle of his order. Here, likewise, she implored for him the great indulgence by which the chapel became famous throughout Christendom.

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