“The pearl” Reflection for 17th Sunday
It is said, that nothing is ever as straight forward as it seems, and so it is with pearls and treasures. Just recently, in Ireland, a Chinese vase went for sale. The asking price was between €800 and €1,200. Unbeknownst to the owners they had a pearl of great price on their hands but they weren’t aware of it. It was actually a very rare piece from the short-lived Qing dynasty in China and on auction day it fetched €740.000.
Around the same time, a woman in London had been wearing a ring on her finger for some thirty years, she had bought it at a second-hand sale, for a mere £15. She was under the impression it was a fake diamond ring until one day, recently, a jeweller spotted it on her finger during a visit to his shop. He told her to get it valued. To her dismay it turned out to be a 26.27 carat diamond ring. It went on auction recently with an estimated value of around £450.000.
What these examples show is how our lives are shaped by our perception, taste, packaging and priorities. When Jesus came those same traits prevented most of his contemporaries from seeing who he really was. He didn’t fit their perceptions of what the Messiah should look like. In today’s language He was packaged all wrong. He was born in the wrong place, came from the wrong address and he mixed with the wrong kind of people. As a result many people missed the pearl of great price he was offering them. The pearl was the Kingdom of heaven which is of inestimable value.
Jesus continually holds out the Kingdom of heaven to us. For many of us, as children, it was easy for us to accept it as a wonderful story. But as adults we are asked to accept the reality of it anew. Because the Kingdom of heaven constitutes all who Jesus was and stood for. The acceptance of that kingdom now involves aligning or re-aligning our values and lifestyles in accordance with Jesus’ values. That’s price for the gift and it will be different for each of us, but nevertheless challenging. But once we recognise the incredible gift we are given, which includes the fullness of life here and hereafter, the price will be seen in perspective and joyfully accepted.
Jesus still holds out the kingdom of heaven to us for acceptance. But, as the fox in the little prince says: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Like Solomon in the first reading we need to pray for wisdom and an understanding heart that we may recognise the Kingdom when it reveals itself to us and accept it.