Recognizing the Pearls among Us

Recognizing the Pearls among Us

July 27, 2014 | HNMWebmaster | Blessings, Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Grace, Homilies, Joy, Love, Ordinary Time, St. Matthew

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 27, 2014 – Year A

Readings: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

The first thing that struck me when I read the Scriptures for today was all of the “choices.” Life is full of choices. We are presented with them constantly. Some are easy and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Others are much more important and, at the time, we may not even realize the impact that they will have in our life.

In the first reading, God offers the young King Solomon anything he wants. He could have asked for anything but he chose to ask God for wisdom – and he was rewarded.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells two parables about the kingdom of heaven. In both, someone finds something of great value and each person chooses to commit himself completely to obtaining it. But how did they recognize the true value? How were they able to see past the dirt of the field? How can we keep from mistaking a pearl for a pebble, especially when it comes to people? How often do we choose to see only the outside and fail to look more closely? This is often the case when we see a person with a disability.

Disabilities can be glaring and obvious… they can make us uncomfortable because we often don’t know what to do. We are faced with some choices. We can choose to do nothing and turn away or we can choose to look deeper.

There was a time when our society chose to shut away people with special needs. It was difficult for families to care for them and the general population didn’t understand them.  There were also a lot of superstitions about the reason why they had the disability. Institutionalizing them seemed to be the best solution for everybody.

Even when I was growing up in the 1970s, I didn’t have special needs children in my classroom. Bedford County was starting to bring them into the school, but they had their own class, and we had very little interaction with them. As a result, when we were together, I didn’t really know how to act because I didn’t get the chance to know them. I saw, first and foremost, their disability.

I contrast this with the experience of my children. Today, children with all kinds of disabilities are placed in the regular classroom as much as possible. As a result, my children are completely comfortable with them. They don’t pay any attention when the child is mumbling to himself or bouncing in his seat or pretending to be a chicken. They understand if a child is not comfortable making eye contact or shaking hands. They understand that some kids have to have a routine, such as sitting in the same seat all the time. It’s really not a big deal and they are much more open to the blessings that people with special needs have to offer, and these blessings can be very powerful.

How many of you were here to witness Miss Ariel Goff receive her confirmation? After carefully considering every point of the Creed as it was presented to her in pictures, she emphatically answered, “YES”. She was then sealed with the gift the Holy Spirit and she ran up and down the aisle clapping with joy. There wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation. I’ve been to a number of Confirmations, but all of them combined can’t compare with the grace that was present that morning.

Today is a very important day in our parish. We have a young man making his first communion at the 10:45 Mass. His name is Austin and he is autistic. He doesn’t talk much, but he knows that the Church and the Sacraments are very special. He likes to watch the video of his own baptism over and over again. He likes to come to Mass with his family and he is drawn to the Eucharist during communion. During a recent visit to his doctor, he showed her how he makes the sign of the cross, including saying, “Amen.” That’s the only time the doctor has heard him speak. Austin can see the treasure here.

God made each one of us in his own image, but we are not all alike. Some people have challenges that others do not have to face. But remember the words of St. Paul to the Romans:  “All things work for good for those who love God” and everyone has something good that they can offer for the Kingdom. Let’s all choose to look for the pearl in everyone.

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