Our first reading tells of the time when the Lord God came in a dream to the young and inexperienced King Solomon, a new king of Israel who probably had many a sleepless night wondering how he could live up to the example of his famous father King David. Solomon knew his limitations. He saw himself as a child burdened with inexperience. He did not know how to go out or come in.
God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted to fulfil his new task as King. Solomon asked for an understanding mind, a listening heart to be able to know good from evil. Solomon knew the mistakes his father David made in his life, his will to power and wealth, his infidelity and betrayal of friends, so he asked for the ability to discern good from evil, love from lust and justice from injustice. All things came to Solomon in and through his understanding mind, his listening heart.
In the gospel we hear of a great treasure and a pearl of great price, things for which someone would give everything they have just to have as their own. There are people who would, as the saying goes, sell their souls to get to be the CEO of their company, sell their souls and compromise their personal integrity to close this business deal, sell their souls, their wife, their husband, their sons and daughters for a new partner, a new life. Such people are convinced that once they’ve done these things they’ll have it all, they’ll have their priceless pearl.
For us the discovered treasure, the pearl of great price is our relationship with Jesus Christ in the community of the church and our faithfulness to living by his example. This not a one shot deal, like winning the lottery. Relationships are meant to grow, to deepen. All through life we are lured by the trinkets of life, money, power, pleasure. It is not easy to keep these things in perspective. Every day of life we are bombarded with promises our lives will be fulfilled if we live in this condo, if we drive this car, is we use this cosmetic, join this heath club, go to this resort. We know these are empty promises but still they sound good. An international corporation has even mounted an entire advertising campaign on the celebration of pleasure: “We are all basically hedonists. That’s what makes us human. And we all want. All we’ve ever wanted is to have a good time. If it feels good, then just do it.” What tragic, selfish advice yet many people believe it to be true.
We are wise to remember the teaching of Jesus, ’what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose himself?’
Our pearl of great price is our relationship with Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave his life for us. This was St.Paul’s experience when he said, “I have accepted the loss of everything in order to gain Christ.” “Everything” means the fame and fortune that could have been his. To gain Christ refers to the one pearl of great price, his deep relationship with the crucified Christ.
Our personal relationship with Christ in and through our life in the church deepens day by day as we try to live as he taught us to life, as we try to love and forgive as Christ loves and forgives us, as we try to be open and accepting of others as Christ is open and accepting of us with all our faults and failings. As we try to be present to the poor, the homeless, the stranger and the lonely as was the Christ.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we find our pearl of great price, Jesus the Christ.