Sell all and buy It

Reading      Matthew 13:44-52


                      The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;

                    on finding one pearl of great value,

                          he went and sold all that he had and bought it.


Why do you talk to them in parables? (Matthew 13:10-17) Jesus spoke in parables to make the unseen but real, spiritual dimension of life as visible as possible. The most effective method for doing so is still by speaking in picture or symbolic language. Today, as disciples of Jesus, it is our task to seek the kingdom of God as consciously as we are able, knowing that when we come upon it …more will be available to us. It is unconsciousness that makes us blind and deaf to God’s presence in our lives and keeps us from being fully healed. Oh, that we may see and hear the good news of the kingdom of God!


The making of a pearl is a remarkable story in itself.  All over the world divers risk their lives in the perilous business of retrieving pearls from the bottom of the sea.  In Japan the amas are always women; they plunge as deep as 40 feet with nothing to protect them from the sharks, sea eels and jellyfish other than the hook-nosed iron knife they use to dislodge the oysters. From the outside, oysters give no hint of the treasure they may conceal. The shell - gray, gnarled, and frequently misshapen - contains a moist, fleshy, living oyster surrounded by flaps of tissue called the mantle.  Nature has devised a way of protecting the oyster’s delicate body: the mantle secretes a substance called nacre that covers the inner shell surface in a smooth layer known as mother-of-pearl.


Pearls are formed from the same material.  The oyster feeds by opening its shell slightly and sucking in plankton, the tiny organisms that drift through the ocean. Occasionally, however, it sucks in something less desirable - perhaps a grain of sand or a small piece of shell.  To protect itself against such uninvited guests, the oyster simply covers the offending particle with layer upon layer of mother-of-pearl. (Condensed from Reader’s Digest, “Treasures of the Sea”)


We might ponder this week how do we see our human life experience like pearl-making? I invite you to visit a fishery or seafood restaurant and order a taste of these delicacies. Bring your oyster shell home for your prayer corner. Allow the meaning and energy and power of this symbol to speak to you and call you to deeper growth into the mystery of divine union with God. Our search for God often sets us ‘plunging into the deep.' Imagine yourself a pearl-making oyster shell clinging to a rock at the bed of a large ocean.  What is your hope, your desire, your expectation?  Imagine yourself “the merchant – one very committed and purposeful in his/her intent to find some very fine pearls.  Reflect on the perseverance, patience and desire that motivate you to stay in this process of spiritual growth.


Then comes the diligent work. Daily we must be mindful of how our actions and responsibilities are in harmony with our ultimate desire. As far as possible we strive to hold fast our desire in the midst of the sharks and eels and potential dangers that surround us in our inner and outer workplaces. These ever-present dangers can be the forces of greed, competition, jealousy and workaholism. But let us dare to dive in any way!


I am reminded of some spiritual studies that have spoken to me on my spiritual journey and I have encouraged others to read them so that their desire might stay enkindled: “I Want to See God.”  (Teresa of Avila); my own poetic narrative “Hold Fast Your Desire”  and “Hinds Feet on High Places.”  (an allegory of the spiritual life) by Hannah Hurnard


Over these summer months we might all take the plunge and enjoy some ‘pearl diving’ into the inner depths of our own unconscious. Let ourselves explore the wonders of the inner true self. It can be helpful to record our discoveries in our personal journals. Possibly watching some Jacques Cousteau movies and undersea documentaries (public library). As we marvel at the ‘life’ waiting to be explored in the sea... we can consider “this mystery” as an image of our own unexplored unconscious. Simply stay in the process and sustain your searching for the big GOD.


The parable of the pearl of great price points to the importance of the necessary searching; the looking around with ‘new eyes’ so that we can truly see. So start to pray the parable now imagining that ‘the merchant-God’ is searching for you as his pearl of great price.  Do you really believe this? Live as though you do! And then, another day, pray this parable with you as the ‘merchant’ searching for God-Wisdom-Wholeness-Enlightenment as your pearl of great price. How does the firmness of your focused intention make all the difference?



Just as the sand and grit over time make a beautiful costly  'pearl' within some oyster shells, let us be open and attentive to “seeing and understanding” how some IRRITANT within our work-place (home, office, school) is being used by God as a purifying and transforming agent in our ongoing spiritual growth.  Bring this consciousness of a personal problem or dysfunction or relational crisis into the ‘light’ of God’s essence within you. Can you begin to experience the irritant being coated with ‘mother-of-pearl’ strokes? Observe over time how your mantra "Empty me and fill me with your Great love" actually transforms your consciousness! It works just as sand and grit and oyster shells make pearls - yes, pearls of  very great value!


Journal some ‘stepping stones’ of your spiritual journey in-process by recording some significant dates, places, events/persons that have been very meaningful to you. This activity can help to keep you focused in your search and spur you on in hope and encouragement. Celebrate your faithfulness over the long haul! This ‘grand pearl’ is not found/created hastily! It takes time and patience and much love. You can get caught up in the ‘searching adventure’ by reading “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson or the Life of St. Augustine  (“Late Have I Loved Thee”).  Relax with the video of “The Wizard of Oz”.  Reflect on the journey with all of its dangers, choices, obstacles – and the final discovery: It’s all at-home within you. You have only to become conscious - that is, to ‘wake up’ as Dorothy does in the movie.


Then comes the celebration of finding the treasure. We need to cherish the inner meaning hidden within ‘our treasure’. YOU are the treasured pearl in God’s eyes. Allow yourself to be found by God’s unconditional love for you – yes, just the way you are!  Listen to God speak to you of how highly you are valued and regarded. PRAY with Isaiah 43:1-5 and Hosea 11:1-4 and  Psalm 139 God is the treasured pearl in each of our lives.  Ponder how deeply you live in the truth of this reality. How is this manifest in your witness to others? PRAY with Isaiah 55:6-9 and Matthew 6:25-33.


As we go about our tasks this week, let us be mindful of the gifts, talents, qualities and abilities God has shared with us out of the abundance of Great Love. We could make it our practice this week to compliment each other.  Praise the good in others.  Speak well of our family members and co-workers and friends. God-within each of us is ‘the treasured pearl’ beaming in those with whom we share life. Pay attention to your ‘treasures’ this week.  Ritualize in your home the material/spiritual things that hold great value and meaning for you. Cherish the memories in family photo albums; wear some of the special jewelry gifts that are precious to you. Wear your pearls if you have them! Record in your journal how you experience GOD as your most important treasure. You might want to celebrate a meaningful ‘treasure meal’ in your home. Ask each person to come to table with some special treasure to 'show and tell’. Share why and how this object/quality/consciousness is precious and cherished by you now. Celebrate each other’s treasures and the LOVE that fills them with value and meaning. That could be quite a long BBQ evening meal to linger over.


There is a cost to this spiritual journey. One must be willing to pay the price for claiming this treasure once it is found. Are you willing to pay the price? I have always loved this poem-prayer:  

“I found myself, my essential being.

I found God within myself.

And I loved them both fiercely!”


Finding God-within and our true self within is a profound, yet simple, mystical experience that changes the rest of one’s life. This new consciousness makes one sadder, but wiser!  The “cost” is in time, energy, commitment, and fidelity to the process of growth, maturation…but ‘the pearl consciousness’ makes it easy to sell all. From now on, we can approach our life tasks, large or small, with a new attitude of detachment, letting go. There is an interior freedom that releases us from the clinging to the demands of the false ego-self. The Gospel requirement to "sell all and buy it” is the new enlightenment. Once one finds ‘the pearl within’ the change and trans-formation happens. Henceforth, this knowing reflects itself in an outer serenity and simplicity in the way we live the rest of our lives. Some of you might be inspired to write your personalized version of this parable. How did you search and find the pearl of great price’? Our Gospel homework ~ enjoy a seafood dinner – maybe even oysters!  Share conversation with friends during your meal about your growth experiences reflecting on this ‘pearl of great price’ parable.  Celebrate the mystery of your life of intimate union with God working/flowing in your daily life. All is gift. Do buy the whole field!! Do sell all and buy your pearl of great price. Do cast out your net and when it is full, draw it ashore. The three parables in today's Gospel all speak of abundance, of gift waiting to be found, of authentic kingdom of God living even here and now.  



Carrying Grace      One treasure only.


#1 arletteh 2011-07-26 00:31
It is an IRRITANT that makes the oyster produce the pearl! Interesting!-- So, also, with us: obstacles, setbacks, reversal of fortune, pain, have the potential of producing our best work. Tough times challenge us to go deeper, to search for wisdom, to enter into our deeper creative streams, to delve into our subconscious, to search for the hidden, treasure, to let the energy of it well up, to “put on the mind of Christ”(I Cor.2,10-15), to spin straw into gold(as in the story of Rumpelstiltskin ). It takes courage to do that, for we enter the realm of the non-rational: parables, dreams, myths, music, art. As Christians, we believe that that darkness has been brought into the light, healed, restored to its original creative, loving potential-throu gh our going down there with Christ in our baptism. That we may pray, and pray more, and have the trust to surrender to our Creator’s great Love and have the patience to learn to love with this Love!

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