Heaven is a pearl worth pursuing

30 July, 2023 17th Sunday Year A

Listen to reflection

Much like today, different gods and life philosophies were plentiful in the ancient Roman world. They were like different pearls, available for people to pick and choose which they liked and wanted to keep.


However, say you had come across a pearl greater in its beauty and purity than all of the others you had seen, one so valuable it required you to discard all the rest to obtain it. There’s a sense of urgency in the decision too. A pearl this valuable, like treasure found in a field, will not remain available like this for long. Looking at it, you know you must decide quickly while it is still available.


Would it be worth it to you?


When Jesus talks about the ‘kingdom of heaven’ or the ‘kingdom of God’ being like a pearl of great price, he’s referring to the value of the new way of living available through him.


As St Paul explains in today’s second reading, the kingdom of heaven is not just about eternal life. It is primarily about being shaped to become like Jesus, including in the here and now. We share Jesus’ wisdom, his capacity to love others and his relationship with the Father. We live with Christ’s life, we become moulded to his ways, and we take on Christ’s whole way of being as our own.


The imagery offered by the parables in today’s gospels describes the right response to finding the kingdom of heaven, which is to give up everything else that has value in order to pursue it. Whether it costs us success, security, pleasure, or the respect of others, the kingdom of heaven is worth the very highest price.


St Matthew understands how the kingdom of heaven can change a person. Not only has he given up everything, including riches and security, for the kingdom of heaven but, in attaining it, he is like the head of a household who can welcome others into the kingdom and give its treasures away.


However, there is no understanding of the kingdom of heaven as Jesus describes it without a life-changing commitment to stay on its course.


As our first reading explains, King Solomon, at the start of his life, found this pearl of great price and placed it at the very centre of his life. Solomon disregarded offers of health, wealth and security and instead prized knowing the heart and mind of God. However, as the books of Kings go on to document, the wealth and life of pleasure drew Solomon’s focus away from the wisdom he once prized above everything.


The life on offer from God gives us meaning and joy. It offers us a life where “all things work for good for those who love God.” It is worth it to cast everything aside to attain it.


Jospeh Doyle

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