1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46
Two weeks ago the Gospel pondered seeds, last week weeds, and this week needs. You know…cravings. Hunger. Cultural commentators remind us how many folks speak of their spiritual hunger. You’ve probably heard them: they want spirituality, they just don’t want religion. Today’s liturgy nudges us along this path of holy longing, wholeness and holiness, integration.
Once again, Jesus uses metaphors for the Kingdom. We may desire a firsthand experience of God, soul, or mystery. We may dream of hiking in the woods, strolling along the shore at sunset, or sharing a candlelight dinner with someone we love – and suddenly experiencing a breakthrough. Perhaps a deeper consciousness, heightened passion or pleasure or purpose. These "aha" moments can be exhilarating. Finding a treasure or a pearl of great price we thunder enthusiastically, "Yes!".
But it soon dawns on us that if we want to purchase the treasure or pearl we’ve got to sell all the trinkets we’ve zealously accumulated. Our spiritual core is the most valuable because it relates us to God and others, and positions us correctly in the world. It’s the one, true treasure. But it can’t be found in the surface of life, in the shallow and entertaining world of everyday gratification. It is hidden, buried in the field of ourselves. What is the one valuable pearl that I am willing to sacrifice everything in order to have? That’s the discomforting part.
The thing Solomon wanted most was an understanding heart. Trust wisdom. What would our nation and our world be like if, instead of possessions, personal security, pleasure, or comfort… our pearl of great price was world peace based on justice for everybody? And no longer does might make right? And my right to possess ends where another’s need begins? And the worship of God through prayer, service and a preferential option for the poor determines our identity. What would that be like? Jesus says it would be like the kingdom.
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is pastor of St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.