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Youth Ministry Resources - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 13:44-52 - The Kingdom of Heaven - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again Matthew uses parables to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. This time he uses the idea of a treasure or of something priceless that is immediately valued by the one who finds it. It is worth slowing down the steps of these parables to gain the insight provided. As Matthew uses the same idea of a treasure being found in two parables then it is an indicator that this is important. It is also appropriate in this day and age of materialism and consumerism that there is an object of significant materialistic value being discussed.

The first comment made is that something priceless is discovered, so invaluable that the person desires it completely. Secondly, the person makes a decision to sell everything that had previously been considered as essential to life or desirous for comfort, in fact, everything in their possession. It is fascinating to contemplate what would bring about this complete reversal of attachment. It is worth considering our own possessions and what it might be that would prompt their sale.

In slowing down this parable, we notice that there is a gap between finding and being in a position to possess this treasure and this must surely have been the experience of the disciples who so readily agree that they understand these parables. They had been journeying with Jesus for some time and had more than likely walked away from all that had once been essential or desirous for their lives. Here they were in the presence of a priceless treasure, a charismatic leader whose words changed their lives, a human being who would be revealed as God's son.

Many countless people have done the same across the centuries and many the Church has named as saints. They have walked away from riches and prestige to spend their lives following Christ after they had glimpsed the treasure of God's love - today we pray to them as "the Communion of saints." And so it is today, this same treasure is available, this same treasure is enough to change so many lives and yet many walk away or are so lost to consumerism that their values are skewed.

Matthew then speaks of a great net thrown over humanity and this must surely be God's grace enabling those who might have walked away to come back. I know of many parents who pray constantly for their children who have walked away from the institutional Church. This is when it is important to trust in God's love for every person. God's Kingdom is open to everyone, all that is required is conversion of heart to the priceless treasure being offered.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 11:1-13 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Whatever faith you follow, there is a particular way to pray - it is the mark of a religious community. The disciples of Jesus know how to pray as Jews, Greeks or followers of John the Baptist but they want to have their own distinctive form of prayer as followers of Jesus in the Reign of God movement. They were not to be called Christians until the Church was established at Antioch. The prayer Jesus taught the disciples remains the prayer of Christians throughout the world. It is a sign of our unity. From the first words of this prayer, we are aware of the intimacy of relationship. This is not a distant god, a god to be feared or a god who demands innocent sacrifice. Jesus speaks to God as Father or Dad so it is a distinctive form of prayer, a prayer based on close relationship, a relationship that we share through our Baptism. We too can name God as Father, as caring, provident, gracious and loving parent.

Forgiveness is a key element of this prayer as we ask for God's forgiveness with the assumption that we will forgive others. Sometimes we are better at the first part (asking for God's forgiveness) than the second part. How well do we forgive those who hurt us? How hard are our hearts? How many families are broken and don't speak to some relatives because of a lack of forgiveness? Our prayer for God to forgive us is genuine but it does come with the requirement that we be forgiving people. We pray that God's Kingdom will come - the kingdom or Reign of God that breaks boundaries. The Kingdom that values poor and rich, female and male, little child and elderly. No one is more loveable or more important than the other because each person is made in the image and likeness of God. Think about a person you might be having difficulties with and look for God in that person. We are praying for God's kingdom to come, not cheap imitations of it. Not partial forgiveness but peaceful forgiveness. Jesus teaches us persistence with our prayer. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Again, God is at the centre of our prayer. If a person in a Palestinian village will hand over a loaf of bread for a peaceful night, imagine the generous response we get from God who love us as a treasured and precious child.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time