Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
As soon as you hear Elijah’s name in that first reading you get an idea of what the story is going to be about.  You see, his name, in Hebrew El-i-yahu, means Yahweh is God.  His very identity is anchored to what is of ultimate value or importance to him.  Yahweh is God and in many ways this is one of the key spiritual questions we face:  Who or what is our god?  Who or what is it that we ultimately value, that is our final concern, our preoccupation?  What at the end of the day matters most to us?  When we answer that question we basically know who we are, what our name is.

Think about that, how would others describe us based on what is important to us?  If family matters most to us, then we are known as a family man.  If we are known as someone for whom pleasure, fun, matters most, then we are a good time Charlie.  Whatever matters most to us, if it is our god, that is how we are known, that is how we are named.  Is business the most important thing in our life?  Then we are called a company man.  Is winning what we are all about?  Then we are a fierce competitor.  The point is, we and the world know what kind of person we are from what we worship, what is of highest value to us.

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This week again, we see Our Lord’s wisdom at work with another Parable about the Kingdom of Heaven.  “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 the 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. In today’s parables we have an either/or decision to make.  To obtain The Kingdom of heaven we must be willing to give up everything or if we don’t, we risk losing the kingdom of heaven and everything.

We have a decision to make.  We live in troubling times and amidst it all, we do not control nearly as much as what happens in our lives as we think.  Nevertheless, we all have an important decision to make.  Maybe if we could, we would go back in time and change some of the decisions we made along our life’s journey, maybe not.  Maybe if we could go back in time, we would bet on things differently or accept an offer we let pass us by, maybe not.  But today you have an offer that is infinitely better.  I say infinite in the literal sense.  Take what you have what you are and bet it all on Jesus.  If you fear your life will be empty without all the stuff and personal things you have and like to do, let me just say: "Your life already is empty, but sell those things now, and you will obtain something of real value.  The price of the pearl is fixed: everything.

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Which of the following two challenges has the best chance of success, achieving world peace or alleviating world hunger.  I'm sure there are more than a few of you or any congregation who would say neither effort would have a chance of succeeding.  If I were to ask which one of these, if it could be achieved would happen first, I would hope you would say alleviating world hunger because fact is that every reliable organization analyzing global resources says that right now the world produces enough food to give everyone enough to eat every day.

I believe we have in our first reading and Gospel today, the mindset of God which suggests that what some would say is impossible, is in fact possible.  Through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, God says ALL who are thirsty, come to the water.  Heed me and you shall delight in rich fare.  Then in the Gospel, in the fact of a huge group of people in front of him, Jesus tells the disciples to give them something to eat and he meant give ALL of them something to eat and as we know that indeed happened.

The Lord is ofering us a challenge that seems far beyond what the disciples faced that day of feeding 5,000 people with the little food that it seemed they had that day.  He wants us to believe that all who are thirsty and all who are hungry can get enough to eat and drink so that we can eliminate a terrible reality that 1.5 million malnourished people are dying in this world each year. That's 21,000 people in a day.  That's an average 150 people who will have died during this homily time.

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God's justice is tempered by mercy and kindness---that is a clear message from today's first reading.........and so should we is the call and challenge.

It's a message/challenge---confident that Pope Francis would say should be taken to heart and acted on by Israel/Hamas.

An escalation of violence--especially when innocent civilians are being affected, injured and some killed is not the answer---NOT mercy God calls everyone to practice/live.

Valuable--us to listen to what our Pope/bishops--that region-world-saying "Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole....promotes more violence and hatred."

Cath. Ordinaries/ Franciscan Supeior--Holy Land--call the situation in Gaza an illustration of the never-ending cycle of violence in the absence of a vision for an alternative future.  We must find leaders who are clear sighted and courageous enough to face the urgency of the present situation and to take the difficult decisions that are needed for the sake of a just and lasting peace.

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