“When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it “ (Mt 13:46).
The merchant did not just find any pearl, which in ancient times, was often considered a great treasure. He found a pearl of great price. This would have been a pearl beyond all pearls that he had ever seen. How many material treasures do we seek to satisfy us? Jesus equates heaven as being like the finding of this great pearl. It is beyond anything we have experienced before. What are we willing to let go of, to sell, to turn away from to attain this treasure?
The cost of discipleship is high, indeed costing us all that we have. Jesus wants to be part of all of our life; not just attendance at church on Sunday, not just during our time of prayer, but also in our work, in our recreation, in our struggles, and in our joys, in our interactions with others and in our solitary pursuits.
The merchant in Jesus’ account recognized the great value before him and was willing to give all that he had to attain that pearl. Jesus is inviting us to invest in him by allowing him access to every moment of our experiences so that we may enter into a deeper and more intimate relationship and communion with him and his Father.
When we do so we will also experience the treasure of great price which is the love shared between them, who is the Holy Spirit. We experience this communion most concretely in this life when we develop authentic relationships with one another. I believe many of the issues we face will improve when we are willing to engage with one another, instead of unearthing the worst, seek the best, and will each other’s good. Barriers will begin to crumble when we let go of what we perceive divides us and embrace the mutuality of our shared humanity. Relationships are not perfect because we are not perfect. As we sacrifice by putting others before ourselves, are willing to see their point of view, listen, and seek to understand each other, even when we don’t agree, doors will begin to open.
Jesus is about forging relationships, within and beyond the usual social norms. He reached out beyond family and synagogue to the peripheries. In doing so, he was following the will of God. This “is no grim, grey, agonizing thing; it is a lovely thing. Beyond the discipline, beyond the sacrifice, beyond the self-denial, beyond the cross, there lies the supreme loveliness which is nowhere else” (Barclay, 87). Jesus offers us an ultimate treasure which is a relationship, infinite intimacy, and communion with the one who made us for himself. This relationship begins when we are willing to build relationships with one another.
Photo: With my pearl of great price, JoAnn, who taught and continues to teach me how to love.
Barclay, William. “The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2.” In The Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Edition, 87. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975