For me, “spring cleaning” is a year around process. As I rifle through boxes, a very distinct choice presents itself. “Shall I keep this item or throw it away?” The basis for the choice is generally founded upon either nostalgia or possible future use.
I may find photos or documents that bring back “interesting” experiences which may tell me of what I was like many years ago. Or, discover written documents (courses that I taught in the past) that may be of use again.
The readings for the seventeenth Sunday on Ordinary Time (I Kings 3:5-12; Romans 8:28-30; and Matthew 13:44-52) present us with some choices that can help us decide what to keep or what to throw away when we deal with other people.
The first reading (I Kings 3:5-12) tells us that God appeared to King Solomon in a dream, telling him that he would give him what he wanted. Instead of asking for wealth or permanent battle victories, Solomon asked for an “understanding heart” so that he could judge people more fairly.
In the second reading (Romans 8:28-30), Paul tells the Romans, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God….”
In the Gospel reading (Matthew 13:44-52) Jesus tells 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….” In effect, Matthew is saying that the kingdom of heaven is nothing more than making God present in our lives.
What can we learn from the above readings? The principal lesson, it seems to me, is to accept totally the fact that we are disciples of Jesus and, as such, our main task is to make God present in all of our lives all of the time.
And how do we do that? The above biblical readings can help us. We do this by our example of justice, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding. Just as Solomon asked for an “understanding heart” in order to judge more fairly, so we can ask for such a heart in order to grasp the realities of good/bad example.
We can do this also by accepting the well intentions/actions of others in helping us make God present in our daily situation. Paul tells the Romans, in effect, that good people often make good choices.
The Gospel reading suggests to us that making God present in our situations is such a marvelous experience, much like finding a pearl of great price.
Understanding others in order to make good judgements about them, accepting the support of people to facilitate the process will help us make God’s presence in this world a year long job. That is to say that “spring cleaning” could well last the entire twelve months of the year. Very likely. we will know what to keep and what to throw away.