The Pearl of Great Price: She sells everything she owns and buys it.
I have a good friend with whom I holiday most years. Sometimes we travel, sometimes new places, sometimes familiar, sometimes country, sometimes beach holidays. He is more of an enthusiast than I. And whether it is something new that we see for the first time or an old familiar place that brings back happy memories or still draws us back – that scene or that sweeping ocean view, he will look up and say, ‘is that the pearl of great price?’ Would you give up all for that? Would you pitch your tent here? Would you sacrifice all that you have just to be in this place or to stand before this view? You have come close to the pearl of great price or the ‘PoGP’ as my friend calls it.
Have you had such an experience? Are there places or experiences that you have had that you would describe as coming close to discovering the pearl of great price? I think that there are many people in our world today, here in Melbourne, and right across the globe who are seeking that pearl of great price at the moment. We can certainly be sent on the search for the pearl of great price when our worlds are thrown into turmoil and chaos, when past certainties disappear and present security seems fragile. Then we start to ask, what really matters? Where am I going to find strength, peace and calm. In the midst of this global pandemic many people seem to find it in the simple things of life. How many people have you heard say – ‘life has slowed down and it is not a bad thing; I have noticed the flowers blooming; I have baked bread; I have taken the time to speak to someone with whom I normally have a quick or passing conversation; I have reminisced and treasured that overseas trip that I will never take for granted again; I have waited to hug my grandchildren, my sister, my friend.’ These desires and longings help us to get in touch with what exactly it is that we can call the pearl of great price.
Matthew’s gospel uses this image – the pearl of great price – to talk about the ‘Kingdom of God’ or the ‘culture of God’, we might say. ‘The dream of God for the world’ is another way of putting that phrase. Matthew tells us that the Kingdom of God is like the experience of finding the pearl of great price. We want to sell up everything else and buy that pearl. So it is good for us to be in touch with those experiences where we can say – this is the pearl of great price. This is what is important in my life. This is where I am fulfilled. It may be that this is the stuff of the kingdom. And when we find ourselves restless and longing it may be that the Spirit is calling us onwards or outwards to look further for the pearl of great price. It may be that the Spirit of God has something more in store for us and is inviting us to participate further in discovering and bringing about the Kingdom of God. We might be being called to further reflection, to a deeper conversation, to a new discover, to a greater sacrifice of service. For the kingdom of heaven calls us to bring forth from our storeroom “things both new and old”. And we know when we find it because we will want to stop there and sell everything we have to be part of the dream of God for a world made new.