“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)
These are words from one of Jesus’ parables describing what the kingdom of God is like. The fine pearl is Jesus.
Are we willing to sell everything we have to acquire a friendship with Jesus? Selling everything may include giving up old ways and acquiring new ones. Changing our focus from self to others, finding balance between career and family, stepping back from gossip, listening more and talking less are just a few examples.
Throughout human history, people have been searching for meaning and purpose for their lives. Even ancient civilizations seemed to sense that there had to be more to life than food, shelter and clothing. Their observations of the natural world around them indicated a power and force greater than themselves.
In my mid-thirties, I met Jesus in a new and personal way. Many of my priorities began to change, particularly with respect to balancing the demands of career and family. Previously, career had often taken precedence. One aspect accompanying the focus on career was joining work colleagues at a local watering hole after work on Fridays instead of going home and having dinner with my family. After a new relationship with Jesus, I gave up this practice. Then several months later I joined the group once again. Since I had been very open in sharing about my renewed faith, one colleague sarcastically asked, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.” I said, “You’re right,” turned around and left, never to join them again.
If the pearl is friendship with Jesus and coming to know God, then there are also some new things we might want to consider. Friendships don’t just happen without time together and coming to know the person involved. Previously, my time in prayer was confined to Sundays at mass or saying grace at meals. Subsequently, God gave me a desire to spend time with him every day, and I changed my schedule to spend about 30 minutes with him every morning before breakfast. Over the last 40 years, we have been meeting for coffee nearly every morning. Previously, I hardly ever read the Bible. Now it is a part of each day’s prayer time. While I am still a sinner, reading Scripture daily helps me come to know God better and take on the mind of his Son.
The irony in all of this is that the things I gave up that I thought were a sacrifice at the time do not now seem to have much importance. Instead, as the parable says, there is great joy in finding the treasure.
Are you willing to sell all that you have to find the pearl of great price, Jesus?